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T-cells act against hard-to-treat cancers (T-ACT)

Project summary

Adoptive cellular therapy (ACT) is a successful treatment form for blood cancers, in which patient’s T-cells (a type of leukocyte) are gene-engineered to express a protein that recognizes cancerous cells, after which this cellular product is given back to the patient. In this project, we extend ACT to cancers of the breast, bladder and brain. To this end, scientists at Erasmus MC partner with entrepreneurs at Pan cancer T (PCT) BV, and collaborate with clinical advisors and patient advocates.

Objective and innovation

Creation of a new therapy that can be quickly implemented and applied to a large group of ill people for whom current treatment is non-effective and/or yields side effects that hamper healthy lives. To enable the development of such a new therapy, we introduce 2 differentiating elements: (a) unique targets for ACT that are exclusively expressed by multiple solid cancers but not healthy tissues (so-called PCT targets); and (b) innovative technologies to select proteins (so-called T-cell receptors, TCRs) that recognize PCT targets, as well as drugs to overcome tumor micro-environment challenges in the targeted cancers.


Partners will obtain TCRs directed against 3 PCT targets that are highly expressed in hard-to-treat triple negative breast cancer, bladder cancer and low-grade glioma. TCRs are genetically introduced into T-cells, after which these T-cells are assessed for safety and anti-tumor efficacy in combination with drugs that open-up mentioned tumors for ACT. The future development of these new ACT products will align the route of an already scheduled clinical academic ACT trial to treat melanoma and head-and-neck cancer in 2021.


A favorable outcome of this project, being safe and effective ACT to treat large numbers of patients with hard-to-treat tumors, is expected to yield control of disease, healthier lives, and ability of patients to re-enter society.

More detailed information

Principal Investigator:

R. Debets

Role Erasmus MC:



medical oncology

Project website:

Not available

Funding Agency:

Health Holland