ABOUT THE SYMPOSIUM
Advances in cell-based cancer immunotherapy
Regenerative Medicine has gained immense attention and embraced profoundly by the scientific community in the last few decades. By definition, Regenerative Medicine is the field that involves the construction of biological substances, mimicking human tissue, for diagnostic and research purposes and can be used to replace or regenerate diseased or injured human tissue or organ. Over the period, a vast number of products have been created and turned into actual therapy.
Skin and cartilage repair were of the earliest successes in the field, eventually leading towards the regeneration of more complex tissues, like liver or heart. The best part of Regenerative Medicine is, rather than symptomatic treatment, that takes place in Conventional Medicine, which relies on the regeneration of the damaged tissue. As such, the healthcare sector is gradually moving toward Regenerative Medicine, promising it to be the future and ultimate cure for complex and degenerative diseases.
In the current context, cancer is dominating among other degenerative diseases, and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is the second leading cause of death globally. There are about 9.6 million deaths in 2018, which were due to cancer, and it is about 1 in 6 deaths! Cancer is a condition where DNA mutation causes lost cells cycle control, and cell division is uncontrolled. The uncontrolled cell division eventually forms lumps or masses of tissue, called tumours. If not addressed early, the cancer cells eventually spread across the rest of the organs, known as metastasis. Most commonly practiced treatment methods include surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. However, the success rate is not always encouraging, and also, they take a significant toll on the overall health condition of the patients, let alone the pain they need to go through during the whole process. These treatments can only prolong the patient’s life span, rather than promising quality and in many cases, curing the disease itself.
Cancer immunotherapy, thus, is an important sector to focus. The cancer cells are initially attacked by the host immune system, which is eventually exhausted by the rapid growth of the cancer cell. Hence, boosting the immune system could be a much better approach to treatment. The cancer is thus shifting towards cancer immunology. In new therapeutic approaches, patient’s immune system is enhanced or boosted with the supplement of specific immune cells, like Natural Killer (NK) cells, Dendritic cells (DC) or event genetically modified autologous T-cells, which express a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) specific for a tumour antigen. Consequently, it is crucial for the Cell Therapy industry, including consumers, manufacturers, and researchers, to share the progress of this very field of treatment in a common platform, to make the treatment available for the patients, where the number of which is escalating fast.
As mentioned before, there have been significant researches taking place in the world in this field, and Malaysia is not left behind as well! However, due to the apparent constraints of cell and gene therapy products, like shelf life, mass production, transportation, handling, et cetera, there are challenges to be mitigated to bring the regenerative medicines into a full-blown therapeutic application. Through scientific events, such as MACT symposiums initiated the process of creating awareness in this field; however, due to the fast progress, it is essential to keep pace with the emerging new technologies and key players, that is the industry, regulators, et cetera, updated, to progress further from there.
As such, that is the vision of this year’s MACT Symposium, in conjugation with the annual conference of the International Society for Stem Cell Application (ISSCA).