CAR T Immunotherapy – Arming T-cells to target and destroy cancer cells
Over the past decade, immunotherapy has become an important treatment option for patients in the fight against cancer. One specialized approach within the field of cancer immunotherapy harnesses the power of a specific white blood cell, or immune cell, known as the T cell to create adoptive cell therapies.
In healthy individuals, T cells identify and destroy infected or abnormal cells, including cancer cells. Building upon these benefits, T cells can be genetically engineered to express an antibody designed to aid in the recognition of the cancer cell by binding a specific antigen or ligand(s) present on the surface of the cancer cell. These cancer immunotherapies are typically referred to as Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell (CAR T) therapies, or CAR T.
At Celyad Oncology, we are evaluating both allogeneic and autologous CAR T therapy candidates for the treatment of hematological malignancies and solid tumors
There are two main approaches in the field of CAR T, including autologous (personalized) and allogeneic (off-the-shelf). Autologous CAR T cell therapy involves the collection of a patient’s white blood cells, including T-cells, shipping the immune cells to a manufacturing facility, genetically engineering the T cells and shipping the enhanced cell therapy back to the patient for administration.
On the other hand, an allogeneic CAR T therapy is created from T cells from healthy donors not the patient. Similar to the autologous approach, these donor-derived cells are shipped to the manufacturing facility to be genetically engineered to express the antibody or CAR, however the cells are also engineered with an additional technology used to limit the potential for an autoimmune response when administered to patients different from the donor.
Additionally, allogeneic CAR T therapy can be manufactured at a larger scale as compared to autologous CAR T cells given they are not personalized treatments. As such these therapies can be stored for off-the-shelf use like other biological cancer treatments, allowing for more uniformity of product with faster delivery to patients while also driving down costs.
To date, several autologous CAR T immunotherapies have demonstrated clinical benefit in patients with limited treatment options for the treatment of relapsed/refractory hematological malignancies. Allogeneic CAR T immunotherapies are currently at various stages of development including early clinical trials.