Our immune system possesses incredible cancer-fighting capabilities, but sometimes it benefits from a little boost. Imagine that we could take immune cells from patients, enhance them outside the body, and then infuse them back into patients where they can seek out and eliminate cancer cells. No longer the stuff of science fiction, one of these adoptive cell therapy approaches—known as CAR T cell therapy—has already achieved success in the clinic and appears to have a promising future in cancer treatment.
In this webinar for patients and caregivers, Michel Sadelain, M.D., Ph.D., of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), discusses this CAR T cell immunotherapy approach that he helped pioneer. By taking patients’ own immune cells and equipping them with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) that enhance their ability to target and eliminate cancer cells, CAR T cells have already provided immense benefits for patients with leukemia and lymphoma, and now are being explored in solid tumors, too. In particular, Sadelain discusses how these powerful “living drugs” are created, how they work once in the body, and how recent discoveries and advances are enabling scientists to improve their effectiveness for more cancer patients.
At MSKCC, Dr. Sadelain serves as the director of the Center for Cell Engineering, the director of the Gene Transfer and Gene Expression Laboratory, and the Stephen and Barbara Friedman Chair. In addition, Sadelain is a member of the CRI Clinical Accelerator leadership, a former member of the CRI-SU2C Dream Team, and the recipient of the 2012 William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology.
Sadelain’s work provided the foundation upon which the first two FDA-approved CAR T cell immunotherapies were developed. After demonstrating the effectiveness of CD19-targeting CAR T cells in mice, this strategy was applied in the clinic, where it’s provided great benefits so far for both adult and pediatric patients. More recently, Dr. Sadelain has continued to advance our understanding of CAR T cells and reveal important insights that are being used to improve their activity. These include the development of novel strategies to overcome the resistance that can occur as well as efforts aimed at increasing CAR T cell survival and persistence in patients, so that they can provide long-term protection.
The "Cancer Immunotherapy and You" webinar series is produced by the Cancer Research Institute and is hosted by our science writer, Arthur Brodsky, Ph.D. The 2019 series is made possible with generous support from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cellectis and Celgene.
Browse our Cancer Immunotherapy and You Webinar Series playlist on YouTube or visit the Webinars page on our website to see other webinars in this series.