Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Restored immunity shown for cancer-related fungal infections

Date:
July 7, 2014
Source:
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Summary:
Sleeping Beauty and fungal infections -- not two items one would normally associate together, but for immunocompromised cancer patients they may prove to be a helpful combination. A study has used the Sleeping Beauty gene transfer system to modify T cells in hopes of fighting major life-threatening infections caused by invasive Aspergillus fungus.

Sleeping Beauty and fungal infections -- not two items one would normally associate together, but for immunocompromised cancer patients they may prove to be a helpful combination.

A study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center used the Sleeping Beauty gene transfer system to modify T cells in hopes of fighting major life-threatening infections caused by invasive Aspergillus fungus. Results of the study appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

This type of gene therapy is already being used to recognize antigens associated with tumors. Clinical trials at MD Anderson were the first to use Sleeping Beauty to customize immune system T cells to attack specific types of leukemia and lymphoma.

The Aspergillus study, led by Laurence Cooper, M.D., Ph.D., professor in Pediatrics at MD Anderson, shows that it may also be effective for combatting fungal infections that can be deadly for immunosuppressed patients such as those receiving hematopoietic stem cell transplants. The transplants are used to treat cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.

Cooper's study, which included collaboration with Dimitrios Kontoyiannis, M.D., Sc.D., professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases, employed a novel method for inhibiting growth of fungus. The Sleeping Beauty system, developed at the University of Minnesota, offered a fresh approach to genetically modifying T cells for human use which is being piloted at MD Anderson for immunotherapy.

The team harnessed Sleeping Beauty to engineer human T cells to express receptors known as chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) which redirected the killing machinery of the T cells. T cells displaying CAR targeted sugar molecules in the Aspergillus cell walls, killing the fungus.

"Mortality associated with invasive Aspergillus remains unacceptably high, especially in hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients," said Kontoyiannis. "While antifungal therapies are available, the patient's own weakened immune system and emerging resistance to antifungals compromise the drugs' effectiveness. There is a dire need for effective immune enhancements strategies for the treatment of opportunistic fungal infections in patients with profound and persistent immune defects."

Cooper said that new approaches for treating invasive Aspergillus are urgently needed. Since use of CARs has resulted in successful treatment of patients with B-cell malignancies, his team sought to determine if a CAR could be developed to redirect T-cell specificity to fungus.

The Sleeping Beauty gene transfer system earned its name by its ability to "awaken" certain DNA sequences known as transposon. Researchers find transposon useful as a means to alter DNA inside human cells. Sleeping Beauty uses transposon in a "cut and paste" approach to relocating genetic material.

"We demonstrated a new approach for Aspergillus immunotherapy based on redirecting T-cell specificity through a CAR that recognizes carbohydrate antigen on the fungal cell wall," said Cooper. "The T cells expressing the CAR can be manipulated in a manner suitable for human application, enabling this immunology to be translated into immunotherapy."

The approach has implications for genetically modifying T cells to target carbohydrate, and thus broadening their application in the investigational treatment of pathogens as well as malignancies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Laurence Cooper, M.D., Ph.D. et al. Bioengineering T cells to target carbohydrate to treat opportunistic fungal infection. PNAS, July 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1312789111

Cite This Page:

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Restored immunity shown for cancer-related fungal infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707152251.htm>.
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. (2014, July 7). Restored immunity shown for cancer-related fungal infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707152251.htm
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Restored immunity shown for cancer-related fungal infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707152251.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins