The Rise of Individualized Cancer Treatments
There is so much diversity in the human race. No two people are exactly alike; even identical twins have different finger prints. We all have different physical appearances, personal preferences and unfortunately, responses to diseases. This makes finding a cure to any disease remarkably difficult; let alone cancer, which has more than 200 different forms.
Thanks to recent breakthroughs in the field of genetics, scientists are learning more about both cancer cells and the human genome than ever before. This unprecedented understanding of both diseases and patients brings about the possibility of new treatments that are made with individuals in mind. While we’ve barely scratched the surface of the potential of personalized medicine, we’re already starting to see amazing things in immunotherapies.
Until recently, cancer treatment plans were a mixture of radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, but a new contender has joined the fight: our augmented immune systems. Rather than poisoning cancer cells or removing them from the patient’s body—usually harming healthy cells in the process—immunotherapies aim to destroy tumors by reinforcing the patient’s own immune system. One of the most promising therapies of the more than 3,000 immunotherapy trials currently taking place across the globe is CAR-T-cell therapy.
CAR-T-cell therapy is an adoptive cell therapy (ACT) where scientists take the T cells from a patient’s blood and reengineer them to produce proteins called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) that recognize specific proteins expressed on tumors. Then these CAR-T cells are reinserted into the patient so they can attack the tumor like a well-trained militia. To better their odds, scientists grow millions of CAR-T cells in a lab before reintroducing them to the patient’s blood stream.
Growing CAR-T Cells
The process for growing these valuable CAR-T cells is complex and involves various types of equipment, one of the most important of which is the centrifuge. Using density or counterflow centrifugation, scientists can isolate the patient’s T cells from their red blood cells, allowing them to introduce the CAR proteins that will be most effective against the patient’s specific tumor.
While this process has shown promise in the clinical trials, scientists are still trying to figure out how to scale these treatments for the global market. As the number of recipients increases, so will the importance of allogenic cells—those taken from matching donors versus the patient themselves. Thankfully, there are already numerous research papers that chronicle the regulatory and manufacturing considerations it takes to mass produce a CAR-T solution. With hard work, the efforts of these trailblazers will create a smooth path to production for future life-saving procedures.
Picking the Right Equipment
With all the regulatory and manufacturing hurdles scientists must overcome to bring individualized cancer treatments to market, selecting the right equipment is vital for maintaining the quality and viability of your cell cultures. From CO₂ incubators and centrifuges to individual test tubes, your lab equipment should come from a company with a proven track record of reliability and responsibility. Visit our website to learn more about all the benefits of trusting Thermo Fisher Scientific with your bioprocessing needs.