CAR-T in the treatment of cancer: a CureTalks telecon

On November 15, our friends at CureTalks will hold a telecon on which there will be a discussion about the current and potential future uses of CAR-T in the treatment of cancer with Prof. Carl June of the University of Pennsylvania.

Please note that this telecon will not be exclusively about the potential of CAR-T in the treatment of prostate cancer. It will deal with the roles of CAR-T in the treatment of a whole possible spectrum of cancers. Prof. June was the lead scientist behind the development of CAR-T in the treatment of leukemias that led to the very first approval of CAR-T (see below).

To sign in to be able to listen to this audioteleconference at 1 pm Eastern time (10 am Pacific) on November 15, just click here.

For those of you not yet familiar with CAR-T — properly known as chimeric antibody receptor T-cell therapy — this is a very new type of immunotherapy which (so far) has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of certain types of blood cancers. In  particular, two forms of CAR-T have recently been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration: tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah™) for pediatric and young adult patients with relapsed/refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (on August 30 this year) and axicabtagene ciloleucel (Yescarta™) for patients with large-B-cell lymphomas whose cancer has progressed after receiving at least two prior treatment regimens (on October 19).

For a sound (and non-promotional) explanation of how CAR-T works, we recommend you to this information on the Wikipedia web site.

For those readers who are familiar with the processes used to treat prostate cancer patients with siuleucel-T (Provenge), the processes used to treat patients with CAR-T are similar but different, and CAR-T has had astonishing levels of success in the patients in whom it really works well. We are talking about patients with severe, refractory forms of leukemias and lymphomas being placed into long-term remissions and potentially even cured in a significant number of cases.

There is no doubt at all that different forms of CAR-T will become widely used in almost all forms of blood cancer over the next 5 to 10 years. The big question that many teams around the world are now trying to answer is this one: “Can we use CAR-T to successfully treat the much more common forms of cancer that are associated with solid tumors?”: breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, you name it.

And just so that we are very clear, CAR-T is by no means a benign form of treatment. It comes with significant risks for a complex spectrum of complications and side effects, known as cytokine release syndrome (CRS), that range from high fevers and mild flu-like symptoms to life-threatening drops in blood pressure, vascular leakage, and kidney problems. In addition, neurological events, such as confusion and seizures, are also possible and may be life threatening. However, we have already learned how to significantly lower risks for these complications and side effects and how to manage them if they do occur.

Finally, as reported here just a few weeks ago, testing is already ongoing of at least one form of CAR-T in the treatment of prostate cancer (but we aren’t aware of any testing of this technique in prostate cancer patients as yet).

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