ATLANTA, Dec. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — For people with certain types of aggressive, refractory blood cancers, treatment options are woefully limited. But three studies being presented today at the 59th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Atlanta spotlight the emerging role played by chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies in helping individuals mount a clinical response and, in some cases, achieve durable remission.
These therapies are designed by harvesting a patient’s own T-cells (the immune system’s primary cancer-killing cells), reengineering them to target specific proteins on the surface of leukemia and lymphoma cells, and reintroducing the modified T-cells back into the patient’s immune system.
“It is encouraging that the data continue to be so strong and suggest that CAR-T therapies for B-cell malignancies are here to stay,” said press briefing moderator, Renier J. Brentjens, MD, PhD, medical oncologist and director of cellular therapeutics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “There is still a lot we need to learn about toxicities — for example, how to manage cytokine release syndrome (CRS), a common, potentially dangerous reaction to this type of infusion.”
In two separate, longer-term follow-up analyses (of the ZUMA-1 and JULIET trials), researchers found that initial responses were sustained over time in patients who received genetically modified T cells designed to target the CD-19 protein, which is frequently expressed on malignant lymphoma cells. A third, Phase I study — one of the largest to evaluate a CAR therapy targeting BCMA, a marker present on the vast majority of multiple myeloma tumor cells — showed encouraging early results in patients with heavily pre-treated multiple myeloma.