Biotech Strategy Blog

Commentary on Science, Innovation & New Products with a focus on Oncology, Hematology & Cancer Immunotherapy

Posts tagged ‘CAR-T cell toxicity’

Juno Therapeutics LogoThis morning we heard that Juno Therapeutics have registered their plans with the SEC for an Initial Public Offering (IPO), highlighting the desire of the VC investors to generate a fast turnaround on their money before a multi-center trial of their CAR-T cell therapy has even started!

One of the challenges with CAR-T cell therapy is despite some stunning results, particularly in pediatric ALL, it remains an experimental one with toxicities that have to been managed. Adult patients, who are extremely sick, have died on trials. If I was at the end of the line faced with certain death, I’d probably roll the dice and take an experimental therapy, but CAR-T cell therapy does have challenges that need to be addressed.

Indeed at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) meeting last week, one of the Hot Topic sessions that took place after the conference formally ended was in managing the toxicities associated with chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy.

Of particular concern for all CAR-T cell therapies in development is severe cytokine release syndrome (sCRS), which requires treatment in hospital intensive care.

Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) involves fevers, hypotension, hypoxia and even neurological toxicities. It’s been known for some time to be a challenging side effect of CAR-T therapy. We first wrote about it at ASH 2012.

As Novartis, Juno and Kite all look towards multi-center registration trials, the identification of patients at risk of severe CRS (sCRS) and the management of this in very sick, often end stage patients remains a real challenge, especially given that we don’t fully know what causes it to occur in some patients, but not others. Patient deaths due to sCRS are not good news on any clinical trial, and even less so when it’s a novel therapy in development.

TWashington DC in Fallhis week sees the start of the 2014 annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) at National Harbor, MD.

Given the rapid progress that is taking place in the field of cancer immunotherapy, we’re excited to be flying up to DC to attend the meeting for the first time as part of our conference coverage.

SITC 2014 ProgramMany of the leading translational scientists in immuno-oncology will be at SITC to discuss the current landscape, challenges and opportunities.

For all the promising results we’ve seen so far, harnessing the body’s immune system to fight cancer is very much a work a progress.

Don’t expect much from SITC on social media, most of the data is likely to be unpublished, which is why you have to go to meetings like SITC, ARVO and AACR in person. An important part of attending is the in-person conversations and connections that take place.

SITC 2014 Conference AppYou can download the preliminary program on the SITC 2014 Annual meeting website. There’s also an iphone/android app for those attending.

Conference Highlights: 

  • Addresses by the 2014 Richard V. Smalley, MD Memorial Award recipient, Giorgio Trinchieri, MD – National Cancer Institute and the Annual Meeting keynote speaker, Olivera J. Finn, PhD – University of Pittsburgh
  • News on important initiatives and updates in cancer immunotherapy by key stakeholders in the field
  • Workshop on Combination Immunotherapy: Where Do We Go From Here?
  • Primer on Tumor Immunology and Cancer Immunotherapy™
  • Hot Topic Symposia on Managing Engineered T-Cell Toxicities & Accelerating Tumor Immunity with Agonist Antibodies.

If you haven’t already seen it, this educational video from Roche/Genentech, narrated by Dan Chen MD PhD (Cancer Immunotherapy Franchise Head) is not only educational in discussing the mechanism of action of their anti-PDL1 monoclonal antibody, MPDL3280A, but is highly fun and entertaining to watch. Enjoy!

Sally interviewed Dr Chen at ASCO this year for a blog post from the meeting on “Making a difference in advanced bladder cancer.”

Subscribers, whose support helped fund us to go to SITC for the first time, can login below to read more about the 2014 annual meeting at National Harbor, MD or alternatively, you can purchase access via Tinypass by clicking on the blue icon below.

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