In Hong Kong, lung cancer continues to be the most prevalent form of cancer. Despite its status as a prominent global cause of cancer-related deaths, there is still a need for a significant breakthrough in its treatment. The Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), known as CU Medicine, has revealed the crucial role of neutrophils, the most abundant type of immune cells in our bloodstream, in lung cancer. Gene editing technology has successfully enhanced the anticancer capabilities of human neutrophils, demonstrating their potential effectiveness in treating lung cancer in animal models. These findings indicate that neutrophils modified through gene editing could be the next generation of immunotherapy, capable of overcoming the existing limitations of current treatment methods.
In addition to traditional chemotherapy and targeted therapy, immunotherapy is now being utilized in the treatment of lung cancer. However, the effectiveness of checkpoint inhibitors, the most commonly used immunotherapy for lung cancer, is limited to only 30% of patients when used as a standalone treatment. Gaining a deeper understanding of the distinct characteristics of the lung cancer microenvironment may offer fresh insights into the existing challenges faced in clinical practice.
The first-ever patented invention that employs gene engineering to produce a significant volume of anticancer neutrophils from human blood has already been developed. These neutrophils have proven highly effective in combatting human non-small cell lung carcinoma in both laboratory and living organism experiments. This remarkable achievement highlights the potential of transforming neutrophils into a novel form of immunotherapy. The researchers aspire to further develop this pioneering discovery into a safe and efficient next-generation immunotherapy for solid cancers.