X-ZELL technology used in development of new T cell therapy

Singapore, September 2023 – A research team at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore has developed a T cell therapy that could play an important role in treating cancer recurrences after liver transplants.

The new treatment, called IDRA HBV-TCR*, is able to target and terminate cancer cells that circulate in the patient blood post-transplant, according to a new study published in Immunotherapy Advances.

“The goal was to determine if we could use adoptive cell therapy to lyse – or terminate – these circulating cells, called CTC, in whole blood despite the presence of immunosuppressive drugs used in transplanted patients ,” says Dr Anthony Tanoto Tan, who spearheaded the project alongside Prof. Antonio Bertoletti and research fellow Meiyin Lin from the department of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“Adoptive cell therapy involves obtaining specific cells, in our case T cells, and manipulating them to recognise tumour cells even in the presence of drugs that are able to suppress T cell function,” he explains. “We have previously demonstrated that we can do it in vitro in a lab environment. In our new paper, we now show that we can target cancer cells directly in whole blood in the presence of immunosuppressive drugs.”

According to Prof. Antonio Bertoletti, X-ZELL’s patented Cryoimmunostaining™ technology helped the team confirm the presence of CTC in the patient blood, supporting their pivotal role in cancer recurrence after liver transplantation.

The study focuses on Hepatitis B virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of cancer in which CTC may contribute to the development of metastases after a liver transplant. Despite being a “proof-of-concept” only, the study could be the first step toward using IDRA HBV-TCR as an adjuvant treatment, comments Prof. Bertoletti.

Read the full paper here: https://doi.org/10.1093/immadv/ltad015 

*Immunosuppressive drug-resistant armoured HBV-specific T-cell receptor-redirected T cells


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X-ZELL is an award-winning medical technology company pioneering the field of next-generation cytology. The company’s mission is to transform cancer diagnostics by fusing novel laboratory technology with digital imaging to detect and visualise individual atypical cells in minimally invasive body liquids and digitize them for instant on-screen analysis. Founded by Y Combinator finalist, Dr Sebastian C.P. Bhakdi, X-ZELL was ranked second-most innovative healthcare start-up in the world in 2020 and has since won the coveted MedTech Innovator APAC competition as well as the Abstract Award at the 2021 European Conference of Cytology.


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