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When CAR-T therapy works against blood cancer, it can work spectacularly, but cancer still returns for many patients. In lymphoma, scientists are just beginning to work out why over half of treated patients don’t experience lasting remission, depending on the product. Now two separate research teams have identified a possible culprit in the mix of engineered immune cells created as part of CAR-T therapy.

To find it, research groups from Stanford and Harvard conducted similar, but independent experiments to better understand the different types of cells that arise during manufacturing or how they evolve once in the body. Pharma companies engineer T cells from the patient’s own immune system to carry a synthetic chimeric antigen receptor, which hyperactivates the T cell and allows it to identify and destroy cancer cells.

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