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The Cima University of Navarra participates in a project that proposes a paradigm shift in the fight against cancer.

The project CARTsol, coordinated by the University of Santiago de Compostela, proposes to combat solid tumors by means of capsules carrying CAR-T cells.

/Sandra Hervás (third from left) with researchers from Cima University of Navarra.

09 | 01 | 2023

CAR-T cell therapy is a new approach to cancer treatment that has been shown to be effective in blood cancers (hematological tumors), but not in solid tumors, those that grow in organs and tissues. This novel therapy uses lymphocytes from patients genetically modified so that they can recognize and destroy tumor cells after being injected. With the goal to create more efficient alternatives in the fight against cancer, the Cima University of Navarra participates in CARTsol, a project that proposes to fight solid tumors with the creation of capsules capable of releasing CAR-T cells.

"Like a 'Trojan horse' that hides and protects its 'soldiers' until the time comes to fight, these CAR-T cell-loaded capsules, together with a drug cocktail, will enable a targeted release of the 'soldiers' into the tumor, while the drugs will smooth out the difficulties that CAR-T cells encounter in tumors, thus enhancing their antitumor action," explains Dr. Sandra Hervás-Stubbs, a researcher in the Immunology and Immunotherapy Program at the center at . Sandra Hervás-Stubbs, researcher in the Immunology and Immunotherapy Program at Cima, manager head of the center at project. "This strategy will open up a new alternative in the fight against cancer," says the researcher.

CARTsol ('Encapsulation of CART cells in bioactive nanostructured porous systems for their targeted release in solid tumors') is coordinated by the University of Santiago de Compostela and, together with Cima, this interdisciplinary consortium is formed by research center del Cáncer de Salamanca and GALARIA S.A., business public health services. Part of these centers are participants of the research center Biomedica en network de Cáncer (CIBERONC) of the high school de Salud Carlos III.


Breakthrough' in breast cancer

At research "we will use mouse models of breast cancer, which will be treated with CAR-T cells genetically modified to recognize molecules that are expressed in this tumor subject . The important thing is thatthe methods optimized in this project can be used, with slight modifications, for other types of solid tumors," says Hervás.

After optimization at the experimental level using cell and animal models, the researchers will produce this new version of immunotherapy according to GMP ('Good Manufacturing Practice') manufacturing standards, which guarantees a production with an appropriate and concrete quality for its possible translation to the clinical setting.

The project has just received funding from the State Agency of research of the Ministry of Science and Innovation, within the Strategic Lines 2022 Program endowed with the Reconstruction and Resilience Funds from the European Union. The overall funding for the project is one million euros.