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New CAR-T Approach Could Overcome Resistance, Avoid Relapse in Some Cancer Patients

Results of PICI-funded study presented at AACR Annual Meeting

A CAR-T cell therapy that seeks out two targets instead of one can minimize treatment resistance, resulting in long-lasting remission for people with non-Hodgkin’s B-cell lymphoma that has come back or has not responded to prior therapies. Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI)-funded researchers at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center presented their findings today during the virtual American Association for Cancer Research 2021 Annual Meeting (Abstract CT007).

CAR-T cell therapy involves modifying a patient’s own immune cells to seek and destroy cancer by programming them to hunt for a specific target. For this study, PICI researcher Yvonne Chen, PhD, co-director of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Tumor Immunology Program, engineered bispecific CARs, meaning they can hunt two targets at the same time. Those targets are proteins called CD19 and CD20, and they are commonly expressed on B-cell lymphomas.

When researchers tested the approach in five patients, four of them showed a complete metabolic response. The therapy’s side effects were limited. While the study’s other endpoints like median duration of the response, progression-free survival and overall survival have not yet been reached, the early results show the promise of the bispecific CARs.

Researchers say they need longer term follow-up on the patients in this study, as well as a larger trial to further test the approach.

Read UCLA’s full announcement here.

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