A treatment that uses immune system T-cells, combined with an immune-boosting drug packaged in an injectable gel, was found to preserve the vision of mice implanted with tissue from a human eye cancer known as retinoblastoma. The cancer is treatable in early stages but can still lead to the loss of vision in about 5% of cases.
The research findings from scientists at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center were published in Nature Cancer on Oct. 12, 2020.
The researchers used a chimeric antigen receptor-T (CAR-T) cell therapy, a type of immunotherapy where T-cells that comprise the immune system are modified in the laboratory to express chimeric antigen receptors, CARs, that target surface proteins on cancer cells. The researchers injected a water-based gel containing the CAR-Ts and IL-15 into the retinas of the mice. The CAR-Ts and IL-15 retained an extended ability to attack the cancer cells, control tumor growth and prevent tumor recurrence. They corroborated the lack of tumor growth with several imaging exams of the retina.