Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts from the ‘CAR-T’ category

Continuing our latest cell therapy mini-series, this time around we focus on a novel and creative approach to CAR-T cell therapy, which is quite different from what we have described before with other companies in this niche.

One emerging trend is the development of bi- and even tri- specific approaches designed to target multiple aberrations in the cancer cells, but what’s the best way to achieve this? Suppose we ditch the core dogma and try another way of doing things?

The entirely new concept making the splash is also coming from an emerging young biotech company few readers will likely have heard of, yet what they are doing reminds me we can borrow from the past and paraphrase a watch ad from the 1980’s for elegant and simple timepieces – some day all CAR-Ts will be made this way.

The secret sauce this time around isn’t quartz, however, but something completely different…

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In the second part of our cell therapy series this week, we take on three quite different issues.

These include the following:

  • A new dual CAR in development
  • Where cell therapy may be heading and how to address the limitations
  • The Cellectis CS–1/SLAMF7 clinical hold

Not all CAR T cell therapies are going to end up as a bridge to transplant – some of them are clearly intended to be more efficacious than their predecessors – but along the way the trials, tribulations and clinical challenges continue apace.

These are all meaty topics to consider, so with out much further ado, let’s roll…

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What stood out at TCT in Orlando?

Orlando – There have been numerous useful insights into the future of next generation of CAR T cell therapies at the Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Meeting (TCT) that’s currently underway here in Florida.

TCT (formerly BMT Tandem) is the combined meeting of the American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (ASTCT) and the Center for International Blood & Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR).

It should come as no surprise that the transplant community have embraced cellular therapies.

As we start what experts such as Carl June refer to as “the decade of cell therapy,” what does the next generation of CAR T cell therapy likely look like and how will we overcome some of the challenges associated with this approach?

In this post we’re following developments in the field, and sharing what we’ve learnt so far from thought leaders at the TCT meeting. This is the latest in our recent mini-series of posts on future developments in cellular therapy.

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CAR T cell therapy for solid tumours is the cancer new product development equivalent of the quest for the “Holy Grail.” It remains one of the cell therapy challenges of the coming decade.

Light inspires and illuminates

In this post we shine the light on one of the world’s leading cell therapy experts who is taking on that challenge.

Most of our posts are what is known in the business as “long-form” and this one is no exception; it’s over 7,000 words long and offers a veritable smorgasbord of insights into new cell therapies for blood cancers and solid tumours, novel targets, as well as future directions, including a company in stealth mode…

Curious to learn more about this important topic on cracking the code and the quest to find solutions?

Then consider supporting independent science journalism by joining an exclusive group of readers around the world in academic medicine and industry who read BSB premium content.

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At the start of the New Year, Dr Carl June (@carlhjune) who needs no introduction as one of pioneers of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapy tweeted that, “2020 will be the decade of cell therapy and genome engineering.”

So what does the next decade hold for CAR T cell therapy?

At the recent 2nd European CAR T cell meeting, jointly organized by EHA and EBMT, we asked the man himself to tell us more about his vision.

In Sitges, Dr June kindly spoke to BSB and shared his thoughts on where he sees the CAR T field going, some of the key challenges that will need to be overcome, as well as some of the opportunities to watch out for.

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When should someone receive CAR T cell therapy? How do we identify who will benefit most or who will be most likely to fail? Those are some of the questions we’re considering in our latest expert interview.

As we see the landscapes around aggressive lymphomas and multiple multiple evolve and change with more near-term CAR T cell therapy approvals coming, so too do the clinical questions surrounding the optimising of these novel approaches.

Prof John Gribben, President of EHA (right) at CART2020 in Sitges

At the EHA/EBMT 2nd European meeting on CAR T cell therapy, BSB spoke with Professor John Gribben. He’s the current President of the European Hematology Association (EHA) and holds the Gordon Hamilton Fairley Chair of Medical Oncology at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary, University of London.

One of his messages was when considering CAR T cell therapy, it’s a delicate question of balance.

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Sunrise over Sitges

Sitges – One of the noticeable things about Sitges, a former fishing village south of Barcelona, is the quality of the light. We could imagine it, like St Ives in Cornwall, as being home to artists in times past.

The sunrises and sunsets have been particularly impressive. When it comes to oncology new product development, we’re all chasing the light and the potential of a cure. That’s the promise of cancer immunotherapy.

Here at the 2nd European CAR T cell meeting, jointly organized by EHA and EBMT, we’ve heard about where we’re at with current cell therapies, some of the many challenges that have yet to be overcome and we’ve been offered insights into where some in the field are going.

2020 will be a landmark year for CAR T cell therapy with new regulatory approvals on the horizon, particularly in myeloma, but the journey to make these therapies effective in solid tumours is one where we still need to chase the light.

In this post you can read our notes and commentary on day 2 in Sitges and what caught our attention at the meeting.

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Sitges, Spain

Sitges – It’s time to explore new opportunities for cell therapy at the second edition of the European CAR T cell meeting, jointly organized by the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) and European Hematology Association (EHA) kicked off today in Sitges, just south of Barcelona.

With over 1,000 attendees, there’s a lot of interest in the cell therapy field and registrations for the meeting sold out quickly.

That’s not surprising given the impressive line-up of the good and great in the field of cell therapy including Stan Riddell, Carl June, Crystal Mackall, Michel Sadelain, and many others.

There’s also a raft of presentations on the challenges and opportunities for cell therapy, along with presentations of new and emerging approaches in the posters.

In this post you’ll find our reactions and commentary on some of the key messages and insights that emerged and takeaways from the first day at the CAR-T meeting.

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One of the delights of going to a major medical/scientific meeting such as the recent European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress in Barcelona is that there often meetings going on around it, which offer unique and novel perspectives.

For example, on the Thursday before ESMO19 there was a one-day workshop on “Breaking through emergent immunotherapy and immune targets in cancer.”

Dr Manel Juan Otero presenting at the FLS Science symposium

Organized by FLS Science, it took place at the Casa de Convalescència in Barcelona. The program featured a mix of Spanish immunologists and clinicians, along with some leading US researchers including Dr Tom Gajweski (Chicago) and Dr Antoni Ribas (UCLA).

It was definitely well worth attending and I encourage you to look out to see if the organizers run the again meeting before ESMO20 in Madrid next year.

One of the most interesting speakers at the meeting was Dr Manel Juan Otero (right) who heads up the section of immunotherapy at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.

In his talk, he spoke about the “Future Directions for CAR-T Therapy” in Spain, which turned out to be a dramatic one with unexpectedly broad European implications.

During a lunch break at the meeting, Dr Juan Otero kindly spoke to BSB about his plans, which could have an impact on commercial CAR T cell therapy companies such as Novartis and Gilead.

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This is an extended update that I’ve been planning to write for some time, however, there was always some shiny new clinical data to highlight and discuss so it sadly stayed on the backburner!

Is the sun rising on CAR-T cell threats from the East?

Over the next few weeks, we will post some meaty reviews on various topics pertinent to cancer research R&D. They might involve a particular tumour type that is seeing extensive developments, an important or difficult target, or even a particular category approach, for example.

In the first of this new mini-series, we take a look at the CAR-T cell therapy niche and highlight some important new developments that are well worth watching out for.

Things are a-changin’ very rapidly here, including numerous R&D threats from the east (China) so it’s a good opportunity to take stock and look forward.

Here we go – hold on to your hats…

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