How do we make CAR T cell therapy more safe and effective? How can we target solid tumors? In this episode we hear from two cell therapy pioneers: Dr Michael Jensen & Dr Michel Sadelain.

Dr Michel Sadelain Biotech Strategy Blog Interview

Interview with Dr Michel Sadelain

Dr Michel Sadelain (pictured) is Director of the Center for Cell Engineering at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He’s spent the last 25 years pioneering new approaches to adoptive cell therapy.

Dr Sadelain and colleagues at Memorial were responsible for the development of what is known as the second generation Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell construct and for identifying CD19 as a target.

Using this target, the results in some blood cancers have been impressive, most notably in acute lymphoblastic leukemia, as we previously heard from Dr Stephan Grupp in Prologue 1: Promise of CAR T Cell Immunotherapy.

At the AACR 2016 annual meeting in New Orleans, Dr Sadelain gave a presentation on Turbo-charging CAR T cells, and how to make them more potent and effective.

Podcast listeners may recall in Episode 5, Dr Carl June and Dr Steven Rosenberg discussed the challenges of using CAR T cell therapy in solid tumors (link to episode 5).

In this episode, Dr Sadelain shares his thoughts on how to overcome the technical challenges they noted in targeting solid tumors, and address the lack of targets that aren’t also expressed on normal cells.

Interview with Dr Michael Jensen

Dr Michael Jensen is Director of the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Dr Michael Jensen BMT Tandem 2016

One of the side effects associated with CAR T cell therapy is that severe toxicities, notably cytokine release syndrome and neurotoxicity, can occur in a small number of patients.

At the BMT Tandem meeting in Hawaii, he talked about ways in which CAR T cell therapy can be made safer and provide more durable remissions. On the podcast he also discusses his latest research and where the field is going.

As Dr Jensen notes in the podcast, CAR T cell therapy [currently] requires access to tertiary care centers, where intensive care and specialist expertise is available.

This means that even if the FDA approves the first CD19 directed CAR T cell therapy in 2017, it’s use is likely to be restricted to specialist transplant centers.

Update: On August 30, 2017 the FDA approved  the first chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy (tisagenleleucel from Novartis) for the treatment of patients upto 25 years of age with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that is refractory or in second or later relapse. (FDA press release)

Additional Information

There’s more from the interviews with Dr Jensen and Dr Sadelain on Biotech Strategy Blog.

It’s a subscription publication that offers commentary and analysis on immuno-oncology and cancer new product development.

Dr Michael Jensen: Optimizing CD19 CAR T Cell Therapy

Dr Michel Sadelain: Breaking the Immunology Rules, how CAR T cell therapy will crack solid tumors

On the blog there are more than 200 posts for subscribers about the latest advances in immuno-oncology.

Podcast Sponsorship

Loncar Investments LogoThis episode of the podcast is sponsored by the Loncar Index.

It tracks the stock market performance of thirty leading companies.

What’s innovative is a unique focus on the cancer immunotherapy sector.

You can find out more and follow progress in real time on the Loncar Index web site.

Podcast Music 

The music is by David Schulman from his album Quiet Life Motel.


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