As CAR T developers take stock after the first wave of approvals, they are drawing a to-do list of what changes are needed to broaden the modality from its narrow indications and fully exploit its potential.
The problems span regulatory pathways, manufacturing processes and scientific innovation, and center on the slow pace of clinical development, the prohibitive manufacturing costs and the lack of tumor specific targets. Ultimately, they all contribute to the sluggish rate of bringing CAR T innovations to patients.
In a conversation with BioCentury, Jay Bradner, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), said the field is badly in need of disruptive innovation, being hamstrung by incremental improvements that don’t address the biggest hurdles to wider use of the cells (see “Why Novartis’ Jay Bradner thinks CAR T needs disruptive innovation”).
At a public meeting held by Friends of Cancer Research and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy on May 17, a group of CAR T heavyweights gathered, including pioneers Steven Rosenberg and Carl June, researchers, regulators, drugmakers and patient advocates, to weigh in on the future of CAR T cell therapies, and how to overcome the biggest problems in realizing that future.
Their position, outlined in a white paper released in conjunction with the meeting, was that changes need to be made to disseminate experimental CAR T cells to more patients, faster.
While CAR T cells have been highly effective against some hematological malignancies, major roadblocks prevent their expansion into earlier