At the recent AACR meeting in Chicago one thing that was a surprise was how many new players seem to be emrging in the CAR-T cell space, not to mention the plethora of targets being evaluated preclinically in both hematologic malignancies and solid tumours.
The CAR-T cell niche is becoming very competitive and gritty
If we thought the market was becoming competitive before with less than a dozen players, imagine how crowded it will get once many of the unknowns start to make their mark?
This situation also presents many challenges and opportunities for the new entrants, not just in terms of merely identifying new targets and preclinical research, but also in the need for quality control and manufacturing expertise plus clinical development.
We should also remember that immunotherapy is designed not to target the tumour per se but unleashes the immune system on the tumour. This means that lessons from one approach (e.g. checkpoint therapy) can be applied to another (e.g. CAR-T cell therapy) and vice versa.
Yesterday, we discussed CD123 from the perspective of a bispecific company, what about approaching the target with a CAR-T cell therapy? What other alternative targets are out that that may be useful to investigate in the clinic?
We decided to explore these issues through the lens of one of the up and coming players in the CAR-T cell niche and find out more about what they are doing, how they see things evolving in this dynamic environment and what their path to market strategy is…
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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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