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Discovery & Development Drug Discovery, Advanced Medicine

Now for the High-Hanging Fruit

Recent approvals from both regulatory agencies and health technology assessment bodies are showing that cell and gene therapies can be commercially successful. And though it’s right to be delighted that these fantastic technologies are beginning to treat and, in some cases, cure patients with life-threatening diseases, we should also recognize that the field is still in its infancy.

We are only just beginning to see the fruits of years’ of investigation into understanding the role of lymphocytes in controlling cancer – going all the way back to tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. The question for the field has been how we can harness and direct the immune system to fight cancer. The field has shown that it is possible to put a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) on a T-cell, have it recognize an antigen on the cancer cell and activate the intercellular machinery. CD19 is the target for both of the products on the market today and is really the core of the cell therapy field. The fact that it is only expressed in B-cells allows us to specially target cancers arising from this type of cell – such as B-cell lymphomas, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

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About the Author

Miguel Forte

Miguel Forte is Chief Executive Officer of Zelluna Immunotherapy and Chief Commercialization Officer and Chair of the Commercialization Committee, International Society of Cellular Therapy.

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