UCL Therapeutic Innovation Networks


Using our own immune cells to target and kill cancer

Researchers at UCL are pioneering groundbreaking cancer treatments which reprogramme the patient’s own immune system to recognise and kill cancerous cells.

claire roddie martin pule

13 January 2020

CAR T-cell therapies are developed by harvesting T-cells, a type of lymphocyte, from a patient’s blood and genetically re-engineering them outside the body, so that they can recognise and destroy cancer cells. 

This reprogramming is achieved by introducing a gene for an artificial protein called a chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR for short.

Using the body’s immune system to fight cancer avoids some of the common side effects of conventional therapies, as non-cancerous cells are not targeted by the t-cells.

In a number of UCL TRO supported projects, Martin Pule’s laboratory at the UCL Cancer Institute is leading the way in developing new CAR T-cell therapies and UCL currently ranks top in Europe and second in the world for the number of inventions and patent applications in relation to this revolutionary treatment

In addition, UCL’s CAR T-cell programme, which involves researchers at the UCL Cancer Institute and clinicians at UCLH and GOSH, is the largest in Europe. This ‘cancer campus’ currently has 10 clinical trials open which use technology developed at UCL.

Read the full #MadeAtUCL story here.