A white paper for CelBank owners
When Wayne and Vin first founded Next Healthcare in 2009, the company was at the forefront of the emerging field of regenerative cellular therapeutics. Over the next 5 years, this meant mainly the use of stem cells and other healing cells as they exist in the body in their natural state.
This work has come into the clinic and is now widely used in orthopedics, cosmetic surgery, heart disease and other fields.
In the meantime, medical leaders in molecular biology have learned how use genetic tools to activate the immune system to fight a person’s specific cancer. This field is referred to a cellular immunotherapy.
Many of you have asked me in the past if stem cells can cure cancer. Except as part of blood cancer therapy, they cannot. But CAR T-cells can. You have T-cells in your CelBank. We thought you should know more about this work.
The Immune System
If you have attended any of my seminars, you have heard my talk about the immune system. This is one of the better understood of the body’s cellular-based systems.
The main actors in the immune system are white blood cells, so called because they do not contain hemoglobin, the molecule that makes red cells red. The white cells come in dozens of types with all sorts of functions in body maintenance. Some remove bacteria, some our own deceased or damaged cells and tissues.
Several types have the special property of learning to recognize disease-causing viruses or bacteria. Collectively they are called the adaptive immune system. (1)
When you receive a vaccination, you are being exposed to a very weak disease causing agent that causes your adaptive immune system to learn to destroy these agents whenever they appear. This is why you can avoid becoming sick with the flu before ever being exposed to a new virus strain. Your body received a “warning” and could defeat the virus before it made you sick. Pretty cool, right?
Well, it gets better. Cancer cells, which are your own cells gone bad, aren’t detected as invading disease agents because they are your own cells. So, adaptive immunity doesn’t happen, normally, in cancer.
But cancer cells ARE different than normal cells. These differences can be taught to a special class of white cells called T-cells. And when they are taught, these T-cells will destroy all the cancer cells of that type in your body.
A New Tool to Treat Cancer
Through a process called adoptive cell transfer (2), cells called Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cells are created (3). The CAR T-cell now has the property of being able to recognize your cancer cells through certain chemical markers found on the surface of the cell. The CAR T-cells are created in a cell processing lab and then returned to the patient for the therapy.
A New Opportunity for CelBank Owners
At this point, the proceed has been proved effective in very difficult cancers in small human clinical studies. It will likely be about 4 years before large scale human studies are undertaken. Then another 4-5 for FDA approval (this is a biological drug.)
But remember the premise of CelBank. Younger cells process better. So if you get cancer in 15 years, you can use your younger cells for a better CAR T-cell outcome.
While you didn’t know this option would exist at the time of your bank, your faith in advances in the field of cellular therapy continues to look like a good decision.
By Dennis O’Brien, President, Next Healthcare Inc.
For More Information
Scientific summary of human clinical work with CAR T-cells (professional material)
Survey on human T-cell clinical work with solid tumor (professional material)