CAR-T reshaped cancer treatment. Can it change autoimmune disease, too?
More than 15 years ago, Aimee Payne was searching for a way to hunt down — and target — the cells behind a potentially life-threatening condition that initially triggers painful blisters on the skin.
The University of Pennsylvania dermatologist found an answer in another corner of the university that housed cancer experts looking to solve a different problem.
A team of researchers, led by immunologist Carl June, genetically altered the T cells of three leukemia patients who had failed to respond to standard cancer therapies. Reinfusing the engineered cells back into the patients appeared to cure two of them and the other patient improved. The seminal results, published in 2011, opened up a new field, dubbed chimeric antigen receptor T cells, or CAR-T, that has produced six approved cancer therapies.
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