Researchers in the United Kingdom are at work on what they call CAR T-cell therapy obecabtagene autoleucel (obe-cel), for leukemia. The is part of the CAR T-cell family of therapies, but with a variation.
What does that mean?
In general, the CAR T-cell therapies work this way. A patient’s T cells, the central component of the immune system, are first removed from a sample of blood. Then, in the laboratory, specialists re-engineer them so they are better at recognizing and attacking cancer cells, before they are returned to the patient’s body.
But the CAR T-cell therapies thus far in use, such as Novartis’ Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel), sometimes fail because, in a sense, they work too well. They can generate “excessive activation of the programmed T-cells,” which can lead both to toxicity and to T-cell exhaustion.
Obe-cel, on the other hand, dials back the degree of activation of the T cells, reducing the threat of exhaustion, “which can enhance persistence and improve the ability of the programmed T cells” to force a remission of the cancer, the research team says.
In Pill Form:
An ongoing clinical trial of obe-cel in patients with relapsed/refractory adult B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is expected to deliver data in mid-2022, will likely determine whether obe-cel treatment is scaled up.