Immune therapy appeal

We asked: Can we help more New Zealanders survive cancer?

The answer is YES. With your help, we will.

With your support, we will harness the power of a person’s own immune system to attack the cancer.

It’s all about the T cells – the white blood cells which can kill cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.

We already know how to manufacture T cells for cancer therapy. We know how to purify T cells from a patient with cancer, and grow them into an army that can target the most vulnerable part of their cancer. What’s more, we know how to arm these cells so they can be effective cancer fighters after they’re infused back into the body.

We call it “immune system in a dish”.

Can we manufacture T cells in a way that’s efficient and affordable?

Yes. And with your help, we will.

At the University of Auckland, we’re creating a world-first manufacturing suite for T cells called the Auckland Cell Therapy Facility.

It will be clinical-grade, so it makes T cells clean and safe enough to be infused into humans. What’s more, it has the potential to do this more efficiently and cost-effectively than ever before – a real first in the world of immune therapy.

Can we personalise T cell therapy based on each person’s unique tumour?

Yes. And with your help, we will.

The team is using New Zealand’s most powerful computer grid to analyse the molecules within a tumour and predict the best ones to target with T cells.

We then manufacture the T cells from a patient’s blood to match the patient’s cancer. It’s called “precision immune therapy”.

The next step is to take this method out of the laboratory and into the clinic.

Effectively we are building an intelligent immune system outside the body.

Alicia Didsbury, research scientist

We have the potential to identify rare T cells that can target the most vulnerable parts of each person’s unique cancer, then grow them into an army of T cells.

We can also arm them so when infused back into the body they can effectively attack and shrink the cancer.

We need your help to make it happen

We’re working to make the facility fully operational so that we can begin to test these therapies in New Zealanders with cancers. To complete the facility so that it’s ready for clinical trials we need more funding.

That’s where you come in. Your support is urgently needed to progress this research.