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E.R.I.C. Barcelona European Research Initiative on CLL October 2018: Dr. Cameron Turtle on CAR-T Therapy

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The first annual meeting of ERIC (European Research Initiative on CLL) was held in Barcelona in late October 2018.

While not a forum where much new chronic lymphocytic leukemia research is presented, ERIC Barcelona 2018 provided the latest and best practices, held productive interactive workshops, and helped develop standards for managing CLL.

Dr. Cameron Turtle was one of the doctors who care for me in Seattle at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/Hutch and presented the CAR-T lecture at ERIC.

Dr. Turtle has done extensive research on CAR-T with a dozen abstracts at ASH including this one that references my trial: 299 Comparison of Efficacy and Toxicity of CD19 Specific Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cells Alone or in Combination with Ibrutinib for Relapsed and/or Refractory CLL.

Take Away Points:

  • CAR-T is basically a way to train our T cells, a part of the immune system that generally doesn’t work well in CLL, to be re-energized and find and lead an attack on our CLL.
  • T cells are taken out of the patient and then are genetically engineered to recognize the chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells.
  • Patients need to have “lympho-depletion” chemotherapy so the CAR-T cells are not rejected.
  • Most patients whose CLL had progressed on ibrutinib and had an otherwise poor prognosis, cleared the bone marrow, though the lymph nodes were harder to shrink back to normal.
  • The CAR-T cells were directed against CD19 that is found on both CLL and normal B cells.
  • There are two potential serious side effects, cytokine release syndrome and neuro-toxicities, which can be very tough, but nearly all patients recover.

Remember while CAR-T therapy was been around for many years, these are essentially the first generation of effective CAR-T cells. The data are immature but very encouraging.

I am personally thankful and hopeful.

Here is my interview with Dr. Turtle.

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For more on CAR-T read our CAR-T section here.

Stay strong

Brian Koffman