|Dr. Carl June speaks at WALS lecture.
Currently, there are few options for patients
with relapsed and treatment-resistant blood
cancers. A new approach to immunotherapy
might give those patients another avenue,
said Dr. Carl June at a recent NIH Director’s
Lecture in Masur Auditorium.
The approach, called chimeric antigen
receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, is expected to
be approved next year by the Food and Drug
Administration for the treatment of blood
cancers such as leukemia and lymphomas,
said June, a professor of immunotherapy
at the Perelman School of Medicine at the
University of Pennsylvania.
The CAR T cells nearing approval are
genetically engineered to seek out and
destroy leukemia cells. There are several
types of leukemia, including chronic
lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and acute
lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
To prepare CARs for therapy, white blood
cells called T cells are taken from a patient.
Then they are “genetically modified in the
lab and returned to patients, usually after
some sort of conditioning, like chemotherapy,”
he said. “CARs are synthetic molecules.
They don’t exist naturally.”