Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy’

Standing from the crowd in refractory CLL?

Last year the two FDA approvals of tisagenlecleucel (Novartis) and axicabtagene ciloleucel (Kite/Gilead) CAR T cell therapy for hematologic malignancies such as pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (pALL) and non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL) have captured a lot of attention.

It’s worth remembering, however, that back in 2010 the first patient who had a dramatic response to CD19 targeted CAR T cell therapy was actually a gentleman with advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the case study of which was subsequently published by Porter et al., (2011) in the New England Journal of Medicine.

We’ve been following CAR T cell therapy and its potential in CLL for some time now, with all the successes, trials and tribulations along the way.

Dr David Porter (Penn) told BSB earlier this month:

“The very first patients we treated are now eight years out from their infusion, a little over eight years, and still in remission, still doing extremely well with no evidence of disease or progression, never had any other therapy. So, I think it’s become very clear that for some patients this is effective in the far advanced setting.”

It’s now two years since we last spoke and it was a great pleasure to reconnect with Dr Porter. As he told BSB at ASH in San Diego:

“One way you make it better is to understand why it’s working and why it’s not.”

What have we since learnt about the potential for adoptive cellular therapy in CLL and what new insights did we gain from new data presented at ASH18? The answers may well surprise you.

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Long time attendees at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) know that there are usually interesting posters and sessions buried on the last day of the meeting.

This year was no exception, with a major symposium on CAR T Cell Cancer Immunotherapy chaired by Michael Jensen MD (pictured right).

BSB readers will recall we interviewed him at the 2016 BMT Tandem meeting in Honolulu (See post: Optimizing CD19 CAR T cell therapy).  Excerpts from this interview also featured in Episode 14 – Cell Therapy Pioneers of the Novel Targets Podcast.

The CAR T symposium on the last day of AACR was one of my highlights of the meeting. The three speakers were:

  • Michael Jensen, MD (Seattle Children’s) Engineering Next Generation CAR T cells using Synthetic Biology-Inspired Technologies
  • Terry J. Fry, MD (National Cancer Institute) Defining and overcoming limitations of CD19 CAR immunotherapy in pediatric ALL
  • Christine E. Brown, PhD (City of Hope) Progress and Challenge in CAR T Cell Therapy for Brain Tumors

Each of these presentations would merit a full blog post in their own right, but in this particular post we’re focusing on CAR T cell therapy targeting glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

GBM is the most common primary malignant brain tumor, and one with a dismal prognosis – the 5-year survival rate is only around 5%, so there is also a high unmet medical need for new effective treatment options. This devastating disease has proven to be a miserable graveyard for Pharma over the last decade, with many agents unfortunately ending up in dog drug heaven.

After her AACR17 presentation, Dr Brown kindly spoke to BSB.

This post is part of our series of thouight leader interviews from AACR17. It also continues our ongoing posts on the adoptive cellular therapy landscape, and in particular, CAR modified T cells.

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