Nov 2021: The first clinical trial of South Korea’s homegrown next-generation chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cell therapy, which is designed to circumvent immune checkpoint signals, has recently gotten under way.
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) announced on Wednesday that a Phase 1b clinical trial of its CAR-T cell therapy is currently being conducted at the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul. The trial is being conducted with 10 Korean patients who have relapsed and refractory diffuse large B cell lymphoma. The marketing rights for the pipeline were transferred from the university to the company Curocell, which was co-founded by Professor Kim Chan-hyuk. Curocell is in charge of the clinical development programme of the revolutionary immunotherapy.
In addition, a Phase 2 clinical trial involving seventy participants is going to take place the following year to assess how safe and effective the investigational medication is.
The acronym CAR T, which stands for chimeric antigen receptor T, is frequently referred to as a miracle cure. This is due to the fact that studies conducted in other countries on terminal blood cancer patients demonstrated that the therapy had a therapeutic effect of more than 80 percent. T cells from a patient are taken from the patient’s blood, genetically enhanced to make them more effective, and then reintroduced to the patient so that they can continue to fight and destroy cancer cells inside the patient’s body.
The research team that was led by Professor Kim of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the KAIST confirmed an improved anticancer efficacy of CAR-T cells in mice with leukaemia and lymphoma. This was achieved by simultaneously inhibiting programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and T-cell immunoglobulin and ITIM domain (TIGIT), both of which are known to disturb the function of T cells. According to Professor Lee Young-ho, a post-doctoral researcher at KAIST and the first author of the animal model study, this dual blockade of PD-1 and TIGIT is a novel strategy to overcome the immunosuppression of existing CAR-T cells. This strategy was discovered by Prof. Lee Young-ho.
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The findings of the study were presented in an article that was published online in the October issue of Molecular Therapy.