This episode features interviews with two Titans in the field of adoptive cell therapy: Dr Carl June from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and Dr Steven Rosenberg from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Adoptive cellular therapy is where you take T lymphocytes – T cells, “the immune warriors in the body” as you’ll Dr Rosenberg describe them, out of a patient, manipulate them in some way in the laboratory, then expand them in terms of numbers and give them back to the patient.

Dr Carl June UPenn

Dr Carl June talks about one way of manipulating a T lymphocyte through the insertion of a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) to create a CAR modified T cell.

Multiple companies now have CAR T cell therapies in development for blood cancers such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), but will they be as effective in solid tumors? You’ll hear some about some of the challenges in this episode. Dr June also discusses some preliminary results that show CAR-T cell therapy may have potential for the treatment of multiple myeloma.

Dr Steven Rosenberg NCI

Dr Rosenberg has pioneered the use of Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes, TILs, for the treatment of metastatic melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Many patients treated at the NCI have obtained long-lasting, durable responses that would now be classified as “cures.”


Can TIL based cell-therapy, a very highly personalized treatment, go beyond melanoma for the treatment of other common cancers? You’ll hear Dr Rosenberg’s thoughts in this episode.

Additional Resources:

CAR T-Cell Therapy

We have written extensively about cancer immunotherapy and the development of new CAR T cell based therapies on Biotech Strategy Blog (subscription required). If you are interested in more info on suicide switches and the company that Dr June mentioned, Bellicum, check out these posts:

Suicide Genes – what are they and are they really needed?

Bellicum moves BPX-501 Therapy Forward

For those unfamiliar with what a CAR T cell is and some of the stunning data seen in pediatric ALL, do read/listen to Prologue 1: Promise of CAR T Cell Cancer Immunotherapy. This features a story that was produced for Sound Medicine Radio Hour earlier this year.

For more on the data presented at the 2015 ASCO annual meeting by Dr Garfall on CAR-T cell therapy in Multiple Myeloma, here’s a link to the ASCO abstract he presented:

Garfall AL, Maus MV, Lacey SF, Mahnke YD, Melenhorst JJ, Zheng Z, Vogl DT, Cohen AD, Weiss BM, Dengel K, Kerr NDS, Hwang WT, Levine B, June CH, Stadtmauer EASafety and efficacy of anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-modified autologous T cells (CTL019) in advanced multiple myeloma. ASCO Annual Meeting Abstracts (8517), June 2015.

ASCO produce an excellent virtual meeting (subscription required) if you were unable to be in Chicago in person.

Update Sept 10, 2015: Dr Garfall and colleagues have published data in The New England Journal of Medicine: Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells against CD19 for Multiple Myeloma. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1504542


This is a link to the “Science” paper referred to by Dr Rosenberg:

“Cancer immunotherapy based on mutation-specific CD4+ T cells in a patient with epithelial cancer.” 

Eric Tran, Simon Turcotte, Alena Gros, Paul F. Robbins, Yong-Chen Lu, Mark E. Dudley, John R. Wunderlich, Robert P. Somerville, Katherine Hogan, Christian S. Hinrichs, Maria R. Parkhurst, James C. Yang, Steven A. Rosenberg.

Science, 2014 May 9; 344(6184):641-5. doi: 10.1126/science.1251102.

Podcast Music

The music in this podcast episode is by electric violinist and composer David Schulman from his album Quiet Life Motel.


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This podcast episode is sponsored by Genentech. We’re grateful for their support.


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