Exciting developments in immunotherapy concerning CAR-T, CAR-T for solid tumours and immune checkpoint inhibitors

Immunotherapy has been around since the eighteenth century, when it was noticed that patients suffering with cancer would sometimes go into remission after suffering from a fever. However it wasn’t until the 1890s that someone started to carry out scientific research on this. William Coley carried out experiments where streptococcal cultures were injected into cancer patients, and regression was seen in about 10% of cases. From then on a rich history of immunotherapy research ensued.

The first immune checkpoint inhibitor and the first autologous cell-based cancer vaccine were approved by the FDA in 2010, and the first successful use of CAR T for CD19+ malignancies occurred in 2011. In 2014 a second class of immune checkpoint inhibitor was approved by the FDA for the treatment of melanoma. In December 2014 Juno Therapeutics presenting data on their CAR T-cell therapy JCAR015 that managed to put 24 of 27 patients, suffering from refractive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia into remission, with six of these remaining disease free for over a year following. As an incredibly hard disease to treat, these results were unprecedented and caused a real stir in the industry.

Patricia Gräf, Associate Scientist of Immunology Research and Development at Juno will be delving deeper into this topic, and also revealing Juno’s novel soluble activation reagent, Expamers©, the most recent development in T-cell activation reagent at the World Immunotherapy Congress, taking place the 14-16th November in Basel. Currently CAR T cell therapy has its most successful applications in blood borne cancers, but trying to tackle solid tumours with CAR T is another story. When it comes to using CAR T therapy, a tumour-associated antigen must be identified. With leukaemia, the CD19 has proved a very effective target for TCR however, tumour-associated antigens are proving much more difficult to identify, and once identified it is very difficult to get inside the cells to destroy the tumour. Steven Lee, from the University of Birmingham will be speaking on targeting the tumour vasculature with CAR expressing T cells and delving deeper into CAR T therapy for solid tumours. Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Centre will also be joining the congress to discuss molecular design of the CAR-T cell and discussing armoured CAR T cell designs and how these may bridge the gap from liquid to solid tumour.

Another key area within immunotherapy currently are Immune checkpoint inhibitors: drugs, often made of antibodies, which ensure that the immune system is able to recognise and attack cancer cells. There are numerous big pharmaceutical companies working on this current technology, such as MedImmune, Roche, and AbbVie, all of whom will be presenting on this topic at the World Immunotherapy Congress.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors can be used in combination therapy with antibodies such as bispecifics and BiTEs (bispecifc t-cell engagers) to produce an increased attached towards cancer cells. Matthias Klinger, Principal Scientist for BiTE immunology at Amgen will be speaking about this at the European Antibody Congress, which is co-located with the World Immunotherapy Congress this November, in Basel.

When it comes to cancers, brain cancer can be one of the hardest to treat, due to the tricky blood brain barrier, and it’s unwillingness to let molecules through. Frank Walsh, the CEO of Ossianix, the Philadelphia based biotech focusing on biotherapeutic products using the highly versatile single domain variable new antigen receptor (VNAR) shark antibody, will be sharing with the audience a bispecific brain penetrant version of anti CD20, and how this was generated from the VNAR shark antibody. Abbvie will also be joining the stage on this topic, to present some of their achievements with the promising bispecific brain penetrant version of popular anti CD20 mAb Rituxan.

Han-Peter Gerber a key thought-leader in the area of antibodies and also Vice President & CSO of Pfizer Worldwide Research & Development, will be opening the congress with a presentation on ADC combination therapy and what we can expect in this industry over the next years, and Janice Reichert, Editor-in-chief of mAbs and Executive Director of The Antibody Society will be giving a closing keynote on all her inside knowledge of antibodies to watch for 2017 and beyond.

The European Antibody Congress and the World Immunotherapy Congress, taking place 14-16th November in Basel, Switzerland, will hold host to over 70 speakers over the three days and welcome over 600 delegates made up of clinical, industry, academic, vendor and investor professionals.

With all the above in mind, and the fact that there is so much exciting work doing into both antibodies and immunotherapy at the moment, you can’t afford to miss what will be a truly sensational event concluding a thrilling decade in biologic research and development.

Want to know more about the European Antibody Congress and the World Immunotherapy Congress? Click HERE to download the European Antibody Congress brochure and Here to download the Immunotherapy brochure.

Book before Friday 7th October to save €525 off your registration.