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Chinese biotech claims 90% cure rate for CAR-T therapy

Innovative Cellular Therapeutics presents ‘stellar’ immunotherapy data

Chinese flagChinese company Innovative Cellular Therapeutics (ICT) has said that a small trial of CAR-T immunotherapy in patients with a rare form of leukaemia has achieved stellar results.

Huang He of the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University presented data on use of the therapy in 10 patients with relapsed or refractory B lymphoblastic leukaemia, reporting that nine of them have gone into complete remission.

The result is all the more remarkable as the patients in the trial were only expected to live a few months. The first one was enrolled in June 2015 and the last - a 17-year-old girl - in March 2016. She was confirmed to be in complete remission the following month.

CAR-T or chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapies are a hot topic in cancer therapy at the moment, with preliminary data suggesting that the approach could represent an important new immuno-oncology category.

ICT and its academic partner are using an 'autologous' CAR-T approach in which T lymphocytes are harvested from the patient, genetically transformed to seek out and destroy malignant cells and then re-infused into the blood stream.

Patients typically experience an uncomfortable period of fever and muscle pain as the CAR-T cells rapidly proliferate in the body and unleash a 'cytokine storm' against the cancer cells. Patients in the ICT trial experienced just such a reaction, indicating the therapy was working as expected.

The trial means that ICT has joined a select group of companies - which include Novartis, Juno and Kite Pharma - who have brought CAR-T therapies into the clinic.

Novartis is currently thought to be leading the effort as its CTL109 candidate is already in phase II trials for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

ICT said it also intends to expand its trials programme into new indications, with a trial ongoing in relapsed and refractory acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and others planned in lymphoma and solid tumours.

Meanwhile, the interest in the sector can be seen in recent deal-making activity in the biopharma sector.

In February, for example, Baxalta announced a $1.7bn alliance with Precision Biosciences, which is developing an off-the-shelf CAR-T technology that does not require cells to be taken from patients.

Other recent deals include Pfizer and Servier's collaboration with Cellectis - signed last November - as well as Merck & Co's $941m alliance with Intrexon, Amgen's $1bn collaboration with Kite Pharma and Johnson & Johnson's $625m licensing deal with MacroGenics.

Article by
Phil Taylor

9th May 2016

From: Research

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