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Illustration of T cells attacking a cancer cell

Cellular immunotherapy is changing the way cancer patients are treated by using living immune cells to fight their disease. For most cellular immunotherapies, like chimeric antigen reception T-cell therapy (CAR T), a patient’s own immune cells are removed, re-engineered in a lab and infused back into the patient. That new army of immune cells then seeks out and kills cancer cells. It is a process that usually takes weeks, but now scientists have discovered a way to speed up the CAR T therapy process.

Allogeneic CAR T therapy involves using T-cells from donors’ circulating blood or sometimes umbilical cord blood. This may allow for the therapy to be manufactured at a lower cost and on a much larger scale. It is often referred to as “off the shelf” CAR T because the product can be manufactured and stored ahead of time and shipped right away, instead of having to ship a patient’s cells off for manufacturing and waiting several weeks for the re-engineered cells to arrive.

But does allogeneic CAR T work as well as cellular therapies manufactured from a patient’s own cells?

Promising early results from a new study being presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Annual Meeting suggests it may. The phase 1 study evaluated nine patients with diffuse B cell lymphoma who had failed two or more prior therapies. Each received ALLO-501, an allogeneic CAR T therapy product from Allogene Therapeutics, in combination with ALLO-647, a monoclonal antibody that depletes lymphocytes in the body to help prepare the patient for the new immune cells.

Dr. Frederick Locke

Dr. Frederick Locke, Vice Chair, Department of Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cellular Immunotherapy

“While the study is quite small, the early results suggest that ALLO-501 with ALLO-647 can safely lead to remissions for lymphoma patients,” said Dr. Frederick Locke, an author on the study and vice chair of the Department of Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cellular Immunotherapy and co-leader of the Immunology Program at Moffitt. “Of nine patients treated, three achieved a complete response, meaning they had no evidence of disease. More patients must be treated, and we need longer follow-up, to determine if Allo-501 can safely induce long term responses similar to conventional autologous CAR T”

The study is ongoing and still enrolling patients. If you’d like to learn more, you click here.