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Expert Point of View: Gary Schiller, MD


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At the press conference where these data were presented, moderator Gary Schiller, MD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, explained that although chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is a major advance in cellular immunotherapy, enabling killing of cancer cells in blood and bone marrow, manufacturing this therapy depends on a time-consuming, laborious process that involves harvesting the patient’s own T cells, re-engineering the cells to target specific proteins on the cancer cells, and re-introducing them into the patient.

“The first generation of CAR T-cell therapies primarily targeted CD19. About one-third of patients with relapsed or refractory non-Hodgkin lymphoma achieved remission with CAR T-cell therapy. This new approach—FT596—attacks multiple targets beyond CD19 and replaces a complex manufacturing process; and it may be effective in patients who relapse on [existing] CAR T-cell therapies,” Dr. Schiller noted.

“This [off-the-shelf CAR natural killer cell] product is an attractive approach,” stated Dr. Schiller. “These data are preliminary, but FT596 is not HLA-restricted and can be used regardless of the recipient’s antigenicity. It should induce a different spectrum of cell-mediated toxicity [than existing CAR T-cell therapies], because it is not a T-cell product.” 

DISCLOSURE: Dr. Schiller has received research funding or served as an advisor to or on the speakers bureau for Agios Pharmaceuticals, Astellas, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Daiichi Sankyo, Eli Lilly and Company, Fujifilm, Genzyme, Gilead, Incyte, Johnson & Johnson, Jazz, Karyopharm, Novartis, Onconova, Pfizer, Sangamo, HRSA, AbbVie, Actinium, Cerus, Deciphera, DeltaFly, Forma Therapeutics, Gaida, Mateon, PrECOG, Samus, Stemline, Toledo, and Trovagene.


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