Next-Generation Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)-T Cell Therapy

Researchers

Project description

CAR-T cell therapy has resulted in unprecedented outcomes in patients with relapsed blood cancers and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017. The therapy uses patients' own T cells that are engineered to recognize and fight blood cancer.

Generating CAR-T cells involves the following steps:

  1. Patients undergo a process called leukapheresis to isolate their T cells.
  2. T cells are sent to the lab, expanded, stimulated and engineered to recognize cancer.
  3. T cells are infused back into patients after patients receive low-dose chemotherapy.

This labor-intensive process takes two to three weeks, needs to be done in FDA-compliant laboratory facilities and is costly. The research team is developing strategies to activate T cells directly in patients (in vivo) to generate CAR-T cells, thereby skipping the complex manufacturing process.

The collaboration combines unique expertise derived from three laboratory programs. Dr. Kenderian's team develops novel strategies in CAR-T cell and engineered T cell therapy. Dr. Pease's team brings long-standing expertise in major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules and is employing this knowledge as a strategy to activate T cells. Dr. Barry's team provides an in-depth understanding of vaccine viruses and their use as a way to deliver MHC molecules to activate T cells.

Impact on patient care

The direct generation of CAR-T cells in vivo — without the need for complex manufacturing processes and facilities — would increase patients' access to these effective therapies and reduce the cost of treatment. Because the cells are being activated and engineered while inside the body, this research could lead to the development of additional, more-effective therapies.