Feature

NCI grant to fund study of CAR T-cell therapy for solid tumors

Steven M. Albelda, MD
Steven M. Albelda

A $10.7 million grant from NCI will fund research at University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center to evaluate the use of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy for treatment of solid tumors.

Investigators with Abramson’s Translational Center of Excellence for Lung Cancer Immunology will focus on CAR T-cell therapy approaches in lung cancer and mesothelioma.

“Although CAR T cells have revolutionized the treatment of leukemia and bone marrow cancers, we have not yet had the same success in treating solid tumors like lung cancer,” Steven M. Albelda, MD, William Maul Measey professor of medicine at Penn and a member of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at Abramson Cancer Center, said in a press release. “The goal of this program project is to solve this problem, and we’re grateful to the NCI for supporting our efforts to expand this approach to more patients around the world.”

The grant will support three interrelated projects focused on the ability of CAR T cells to stimulate other immune cells — such as dendritic cells and T cells — to respond against tumors in non-small cell lung cancer and malignant pleural mesothelioma.

The first project will include aclinical trial with highly potent anti-mesothelin CAR T cells and a future trial to evaluate the safety and activity of CAR T cells that are engineered to engage the tumor support structure by targeting the fibroblast activation protein on supportive fibroblasts in the tumor. The results of these trials will be used to design a third trial supported by the grant..

The second project will track CAR T cells and their effects in patients, and whether CAR T cells can activate other T-cell responses.

Albelda said there is always a concern that CAR T cells could have adverse effects, Albelda said.

“That issue will be determined primarily in the clinical trial project that carefully tracks any adverse events,” Albelda told HemOnc Today. “The main goal of the second study ... is based on tissue biopsies to find out how many of the CAR T cells get into the tumors.”

The third project will study the ways to improve the effectiveness of CAR T cells using animals models It also will explore ways that CAR T cells can be combined with other therapies to enhance efficacy.

The NCI grant will support the research for the next five years.

“The stakes of these projects are incredibly high,” Albelda said in a press release. “Achieving the success rates for CAR T therapy in solid tumors that we’ve already seen in leukemia and lymphoma would be a major paradigm shift in the treatment of these cancers.”– by John DeRosier

For more information:

Steven M. Albelda , MD, can be reached at 228 Stemmler Hall, 3450 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6118; email: albelda@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.

Disclosure: HemOnc Today could not confirm Albelda’s relevant financial disclosures at the time of reporting.

Steven M. Albelda, MD
Steven M. Albelda

A $10.7 million grant from NCI will fund research at University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center to evaluate the use of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy for treatment of solid tumors.

Investigators with Abramson’s Translational Center of Excellence for Lung Cancer Immunology will focus on CAR T-cell therapy approaches in lung cancer and mesothelioma.

“Although CAR T cells have revolutionized the treatment of leukemia and bone marrow cancers, we have not yet had the same success in treating solid tumors like lung cancer,” Steven M. Albelda, MD, William Maul Measey professor of medicine at Penn and a member of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at Abramson Cancer Center, said in a press release. “The goal of this program project is to solve this problem, and we’re grateful to the NCI for supporting our efforts to expand this approach to more patients around the world.”

The grant will support three interrelated projects focused on the ability of CAR T cells to stimulate other immune cells — such as dendritic cells and T cells — to respond against tumors in non-small cell lung cancer and malignant pleural mesothelioma.

The first project will include aclinical trial with highly potent anti-mesothelin CAR T cells and a future trial to evaluate the safety and activity of CAR T cells that are engineered to engage the tumor support structure by targeting the fibroblast activation protein on supportive fibroblasts in the tumor. The results of these trials will be used to design a third trial supported by the grant..

The second project will track CAR T cells and their effects in patients, and whether CAR T cells can activate other T-cell responses.

Albelda said there is always a concern that CAR T cells could have adverse effects, Albelda said.

“That issue will be determined primarily in the clinical trial project that carefully tracks any adverse events,” Albelda told HemOnc Today. “The main goal of the second study ... is based on tissue biopsies to find out how many of the CAR T cells get into the tumors.”

The third project will study the ways to improve the effectiveness of CAR T cells using animals models It also will explore ways that CAR T cells can be combined with other therapies to enhance efficacy.

The NCI grant will support the research for the next five years.

“The stakes of these projects are incredibly high,” Albelda said in a press release. “Achieving the success rates for CAR T therapy in solid tumors that we’ve already seen in leukemia and lymphoma would be a major paradigm shift in the treatment of these cancers.”– by John DeRosier

For more information:

Steven M. Albelda , MD, can be reached at 228 Stemmler Hall, 3450 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6118; email: albelda@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.

Disclosure: HemOnc Today could not confirm Albelda’s relevant financial disclosures at the time of reporting.

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