The promise of CAR-T therapy for cancer: meta-analysis shows the big picture

August 14, 2019

Drs. Manoj Lalu and Dean FergussonDrs. Manoj Lalu and Dean FergussonCAR-T therapy, which uses a patient’s own genetically modified immune cells, is one of the most exciting advances in cancer treatment. After seeing striking results in young patients with end-stage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), CAR-T researchers are now expanding into other kinds of cancer and optimizing their techniques. To get a big picture view of the field, Drs. Manoj Lalu and Dean Fergusson led a team that analyzed data from nearly 1,000 patients who participated in 60 different CAR-T trials. They found that CD19 CAR-T therapy eliminated all signs of cancer in almost 80 percent of patients with ALL. Looking at blood cancers overall, the complete response rate was approximately 50 percent. The team also found, contrary to some expectations, that there was no link between major immune side effects and complete response, suggesting that it may be possible to get even better responses without increasing side effects. This study is part of a made-in-Canada CAR-T research program that will include a unique clinical trial led by Dr. Natasha Kekre

Authors: Grigor EJM, Fergusson D, Kekre N, Montroy J, Atkins H, Seftel MD, Daugaard M, Presseau J, Thavorn K, Hutton B, Holt RA, Lalu MM.

Journal: Transfusion Medicine Reviews

Core resources: Ottawa Methods Centre, The Ottawa Hospital Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre

Funding: Organizations such as BioCanRx, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Government of Ontario have supported The Ottawa Hospital’s CAR-T research program and the Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre, but additional funding is essential to make this program a reality. The Ottawa Hospital Foundation is raising money for cancer research like this, that is revolutionizing the care we provide patients.

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