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How CAR T-Cell Therapy Has Evolved in Hematologic Malignancies

Frederick L. Locke, MD
Published Online:4:04 PM, Fri April 5, 2019

Frederick L. Locke, MD, medical director and research director of the Immune Cell Therapy Program and the co-program leader of the Immunology Program, vice chair of the Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cellular Immunotherapy program at Moffitt Cancer Center, discusses how chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies have evolved over the last 30 years of research in the field of hematologic malignancies.

Early work with CAR T cells demonstrated their capabilities in animal models, but it wasn’t until second-generation CAR T cells were introduced that the real benefit for patients was seen in larger, multicenter trials, such as the ZUMA-1 trial that led to the approval of axicabtagene ciloleucel (axi-cel; Yescarta) in patients with large B-cell lymphomas, Locke said.

Because of these larger trials, physicians now know how effective CAR T-cell therapy can be. Moving forward, Locke says we must learn how to use these agents best, how to make them less toxic, and how to get the patient onto this therapy quicker, such as with off-the-shelf CAR T cells. Locke says another challenge remains in how society as a whole can pay for these agents and what other targets can be used to treat other diseases.
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