This is the penultimate post in our mini-series looking at the potential of immunometabolism for cancer new product development. The initial plans for six posts ended up being revised with a seventh and final article based on an additional thought leader interview.
What’s the immunometabolism prize?
Like a series of postcards from our travels, the aim was to offer a flavor of different approaches in the field, some of which are already being translated and evaluated by biotech companies in clinical trials.
Along the way, like conversations on a journey, we spoke to several scientists working at the forefront of this research. As regular readers know we don’t just interview the ‘great and good’ – the established PI’s but in this series – we also spoke to some emerging up and coming researchers too. Each offered a unique personal perspective on different aspects of metabolism and its potential role in cancer research.
In today’s post, we share an interview with a young researcher working on a novel and intriguing approach, which could improve adoptive cell therapy.
We expect to hear a lot more about many of the immunometabolic strategies we’ve highlighted over the course of coming months, so this is a theme we will return to as new data emerges.
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After regularly reporting here at BSB on several readouts in terms of antibodies and CARs since ASH last year, it’s reasonable to conclude now that there has been growing interest in BCMA–APRIL as a target in multiple myeloma (MM). The CAR T cell therapies have generally focused on BCMA or BCMA-TACI as a target, while antibody approaches such as Aduro’s, BION–1301, target APRIL.
T cells attacking a cancer cell
These new therapies have all been either preclinical in nature or preliminary phase 1 studies in a very limited number of patients, meaning that the best we can characterise them is that old reliable chestnut, ‘promising but early’… to do otherwise would be rather extravagant and hopeful at best.
Given the data from several CAR T cell therapy studies were being presented at two meetings on two separate continents only a few days apart, it makes sense to review them as a whole.
It’s therefore time for a detailed update, including a review of the differences in the key studies, a look at where we are now, as well as tips on what to look for going forward.
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Over the last two years we’ve written extensively about chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies, checkpoint inhibitors and immune agonists (stimulants), yet these aren’t the only novel immunotherapies that are being developed to target cancer cells.
One area that hasn’t received a lot of attention is adoptive cell transfer (ACT) and therapeutic tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs).
- What exactly are these approaches and what progress has taken place so far?
- Where is this field going in the near future?
To answer these questions, we put together a primer based on the groundbreaking research of Dr Steven Rosenberg (NCI Surgical Branch), and his invited talk at the recent American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting.
As Rosenberg himself noted, what they’re doing is pretty daunting and yet, results so far have shown some impressive responses in some patients, especially those with metastatic melanoma, but other cancers have also responded well to this novel approach.
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