Children's Hospital of Philadelphia


In recent years, progress has been made to treat cancer with immunotherapies. One of the recent success stories is the CAR-T technology, in which patient T-cells are modified in the lab to recognize unique tumor protein targets. What makes these lab-generated CAR-T cells so powerful is that they are able to seek out, recognize and destroy a tumor that expresses the protein target. Unfortunately, CAR-T cells can only work when the tumor displays unique proteins not found anywhere else in the body, and many tumors do not express such unique protein targets. We are working on a system to harness the killing power of T-cells for tumors that do not express unique proteins. Interneurons are a type of developing neuron, which we have shown can migrate because these tumor  secrete substances that attract them. We are evaluating whether we can use interneurons to deliver a protein (known as a BiTE) to brain tumors in mice. This BiTE will make the tumors appear “foreign” to the immune cells, so that they eliminate the tumor. If successful, we can further develop this technology to treat various brain tumors in children.