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New scientific developments: safe and effective immunotherapy for leukemia

Freiburg researchers have found a way to enhance the effect of cell-based CAR-T cell therapy in leukemia and to reduce side effects.

Activating the body's own immune cells against cancer in the laboratory is the principle behind CAR-T cell therapy, which has been very successful in certain types of cancer, such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia. However, the cancer sometimes recurs and some patients suffer neurological symptoms. Scientists at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Freiburg have now found a way to increase the efficacy of CAR-T cell therapy in animal models and patient samples by inhibiting the signaling molecule TAK1 and at the same time reducing inflammatory reactions in the brain. The study was published on May 13, 2024 in the online journal Nature Cancer.

"The treatment approach we have developed could be an important step towards helping many more cancer patients with CAR-T cell therapies," says Prof. Dr. Robert Zeiser, head of the Department of Tumor Immunology and Immune Regulation in the Department of Medicine I at the Medical Center - University of Freiburg.

By inhibiting the TAK1 signaling molecule, the Freiburg researchers were able to stop both undesired effects: tumor growth and inflammatory reactions in the brain.


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