CAR T-cell immunotherapy – Arming T-cells to target and destroy cancer cells
Immunotherapy is based on the premise that the immune system can recognize and destroy abnormal cells such as cancer cells. However, in some instances, cancer cells develop mechanisms that allow them to evade detection by immune system defenses. Immuno-oncology is the field of developing treatments that are restoring and/or activating the immune system’s ability to destroy cancer cells.
Over the past decades, immunotherapy has become the main approach for novel cancer treatment options with several approved blockbuster products that saved the lives of thousands of patients with cancer indications. Within the field of immuno-oncology, CAR T-cell therapy is now a realistic treatment paradigm for patients with advanced disease.
Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy or CAR T-cell therapy, reprograms a specific type of white blood cell, called T-cells, in the lab, to express a gene coding for a receptor (called CAR), aiming to help the T-cells to specifically recognize, attack, and destroy tumor cells via binding to proteins that are mainly expressed by tumor cells (called antigens). These engineered cells are then introduced into the patient via infusion.
At Celyad Oncology, we are developing technologies and platforms for CAR T-cell therapies
As of today, six autologous CAR T-cell therapies for the treatment of hematological malignancies have been approved in the United States and in many other countries, either specific for the cluster of differentiation 19 (CD19) or for the B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA).
All these approvals were based on impressive overall response rates and durable remissions observed with CD19 and BCMA-specific CAR T-cell therapies in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), or multiple myeloma who had failed under standard therapies. These CAR T-cell therapies have profoundly altered the treatment landscape in those indications.
Despite this success and continued progress in the CAR T-cell field, many challenges remain including: i) antigen modulation and heterogeneity, ii) tumor microenvironment (TME), and iii) cell source of CAR T-cells.