Cancer immunotherapies aim to harness the immune system to fight tumours. Carisma Therapeutics is taking a novel approach to cancer immunotherapy by utilizing macrophages recruited to solid tumours as part of an immune response. Carisma aims to use chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) macrophages to prime the immune system to kill tumours. One of Carisma’s goals is to modify macrophages using a novel gene therapy that trains the immune system to specifically target and kill HER2-positive cancer cells.
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Carisma’s HER2-targeting CAR macrophage therapy aims to treat solid tumours overexpressing HER2. For such a treatment, a patient’s macrophages would be collected and transduced with an adenoviral vector delivering a HER2-CAR gene, creating CAR macrophages. These would then be re-infused into the patient, where the CAR macrophages would target and phagocytose tumour cells, activating T cells in the tumour microenvironment, which then develop anti-cancer immunity, allowing the patient’s immune cells to continue fighting the HER2-positive cancer.