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New Christian Doppler laboratory conducts research into children‘s cancer

Michael Traxlmayr, Manfred Lehner © St Anna Children’s Cancer Research

This therapy is currently being applied to a few patients at the present time, above all those with leukaemia, when other therapeutic approaches have been exhausted. The body's own immune cells, above all T-cells, have a strong ability to kill cancer cells. However, recurrent tumours have learned to present themselves in such a way that our immune cells can no longer recognize them as dangerous and kill them. In CAR-T cell therapy, cancer cells can be made visible again to the immune system by isolating T cells from the blood of patients and equipping them with artificially built-in receptors, so-called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). The cells modified in this way are then administered to the patient where they are supposed to multiply and fight the cancer.

The new CD Laboratory is led by Manfred Lehner from the St. Anna Children's Research Institute in cooperation with Michael Traxlmayr from the Institute for Biochemistry at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU) and the industrial partner company Miltenyi Biotec. "The research goal is to generate molecular tools that can be used to better control CAR T cells in order to use them as targeted missiles against solid tumours," states Traxlmayr, head of the external CD Laboratory module. "Just like in a car, we need an accelerator and a brake to control the activity of the therapy, otherwise dangerous overreactions can occur. At the same time, we have to improve the controllability of the therapy considerably," explains Manfred Lehner, head of the CD Laboratory at the St. Anna Children's Cancer Research Institute.

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