PHILADELPHIA –Genetically modified versions of patients’ own immune cells successfully traveled to tumors they were designed to attack in an early-stage trial for mesothelioma and pancreatic and ovarian cancers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The data adds to a growing body of research showing the promise of CAR T cell technology. The interim results will be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2015, April 18-22.
“The goal of this phase I trial was to study the safety and feasibility of CART-meso cells in patients with mesothelin-expressing tumors,” says Janos L. Tanyi, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Gynecologic Oncology. “We found no major adverse events associated with the treatment, which suggests that the patients tolerated it very well. But importantly, the T cells successfully targeted the patients’ tumor sites and survived in the blood stream for up to 28 days.”
Tanyi will present data on five patients (two with ovarian cancer, two with epithelial mesothelioma, and one with pancreatic cancer) who received the new investigational therapy. All patients who received the therapy had cancers which had stopped responding to conventional treatments.
CAR T cells are made from each patient’s own immune cells, which have been extracted through apheresis, isolated, and modified to identify and attack tumor cells. In this case, the cells were modified to target cancer cells that express a protein called mesothelin on their surface, so the engineered T cells could identify and kill them.
Though the results suggest the T cells did not attack normal tissues, researchers will follow these patients annually for 15 years in order to more closely observe the CART-meso cells’ persistence, and potential antitumor activity.
This study was funded by The Joan Miller and Linda Bernstein Ovarian award from the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, the National Cancer Institute SPORE, and Novartis.
For more information, please see the AACR release.
Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.9 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 17 years, according to U.S. News & World Report‘s survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $409 million awarded in the 2014 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania — recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital — the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2014, Penn Medicine provided $771 million to benefit our community.