Superintendent Der–Yang Cho
China Medical University Hospital
In 2021, China Medical University Hospital Superintendent Der-Yang Cho’s research team had their most recent study published in the top international journal, Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer. The study showed that the HLA-G immune interference signals on the tumor cells can be reversed to become immune activation signals by leveraging the CAR-NK cell target, HLA-G protein, in order to treat various solid tumors, including triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), malignant brain tumor, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, and more. The study has indicated that CAR-NK cells contain the remodeling of genes for side effect prevention and may be applied to allograft therapy. Superintendent Der-Yang Cho mentioned that these research results have been applied in the product development of the clinical allograft cell with Ever Supreme Bio Technology to become the future trend of cancer immune cell therapy. It is expected to be manufactured without isolating the immune cells of the patients, thus decreasing the wait time and cost. Therefore, CAR-NK cell therapy is expected to be applied even more and more widely.
Cancer is always first of the 10 major causes of death in Taiwan and is thus referred to as the “untreatable disease.” Superintendent Der-Yang Cho said that cancer immunotherapy will make a cancer diagnosis no longer a death sentence, bringing about a new dawn for end-stage cancer patients. The concept of cancer immunotherapy aims to attack the cancer through the patient’s own immune system; this kind of treatment is usually combined with other routine therapy for cancer in order to control and kill the cancer cells or prevent cancer recurrence. Current available cancer immunotherapies apply immune cells to achieve cytotoxic effects and attack tumor cells.
Superintendent Der-Yang Cho further mentioned that cancer immune cell therapy applies immune cells to kill cancer cells. This is achieved by isolating the immune cells of patients and massively amplifying the immune cells in vitro through the culture technology of T cells or NK (natural killer) cells, then transfusing them back to the patient’s body to increase immunity to treat the cancer.
Since 2017, the US FDA has approved a few forms of genetically modified immune T cell therapy (CAR-T cells ), the underlying rationale is to implant the receptor genes, which can identify the cancer cells in the T cells via viruses so the T cells can target and identify the cancer cells to attack them. Since the CAR-T cells are able to be cultured on a massive scale, the research and market applications of CAR-T cells are currently very explicit in the modern era.
Superintendent Der-Yang Cho said that the currently available CAR-T cell drugs with documented clinical studies are merely used to treat blood cancers but not the solid tumors that have a huge patient pool, like lung cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer. However, cunning tumor cells will produce many immune interference factors, i.e., PD-L1 and HLA-G, to inhibit and consume the immune cells, which is why CAR-T therapy has not yet succeeded in the clinical trials.
Superintendent Der-Yang Cho indicated that immune cell therapy is growing and making rapid progress, and the American Institute for Cancer Research predicts more than 70% of cancers can benefit from the immunotherapy. The new generation of CAR immune cell therapy cancer will trend towards allografts, multi-targets, and multi-functions. China Medical University Hospital will continue to collaborate with Ever Supreme Bio Technology to develop clinical allografts’ HLA-G CAR cell medicines and expects CAR immune cell therapy to provide the new hope and new lives for cancer patients in the near future.