From City of Hope by Letisia Marquez

The first CAR T cell therapy targeting the B cell-activating factor receptor on cancerous cells eradicated CD19-targeted therapy-resistant human leukemia and lymphoma cells in animal models, according to City of Hope research published today in Science Translational Medicine. The new therapy will be used in a clinical trial next year for patients who relapsed after CD19 immunotherapy treatments and may potentially be used as a first-line of CAR T cell therapy treatment.

An estimated 20 to 30% of leukemia and lymphoma patients who achieve remission after receiving CD19 CAR T therapy will relapse after a few years. The effectiveness of those CAR T cells, which target the CD19 protein on cancerous B cells, starts to wear off and the cancer returns.

But there new hope for those patients who relapse after receiving axicabtagene ciloleucel (commercial name: Yescarta) or tisagenlecleucel (commercial name: Kymriah), the Food and Drug Administration-approved CD19 CAR T cell therapies, as well as another type of CD19-targeted immunotherapy, blinatumomab (commercial name: Blincyto).

“One major obstacle to current CAR T therapy is that in up to a third of these patients, the tumor is actually smart and comes back because it has learned how to no longer express the target that’s recognized by the original immunotherapy,” said Larry Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., vice president and deputy director of City of Hope’s comprehensive cancer center and the study’s principal author, who leads the research with Hong Qin, Ph.D., a research professor in City of Hope’s Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. “To combat that, City of Hope research has found a new, and potentially more effective, target for CAR T cell therapy against B cell leukemias and lymphomas. We plan to open a clinical trial next year using the BAFF-R CAR T cell therapy.”

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