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Cell & Gene Therapy Insights

Cell & Gene Therapy Insights

Expert Roundtable
Spotlight Article

Gaining critical characterization insights for development of CAR-T Therapies for Solid Tumors

Cellular Immuno-Oncology 4.0

Sadik Kassim, Janani Krishnamurthy, Tamara J Laskowski & John O’Rourke

Sadik Kassim
Executive Director, Kite Pharma, A Gilead Company
With a CV boasting the likes of Johnson & Johnson, the NIH, Novartis and Mustang Bio, Dr Sadik Kassim brings a wealth of experience and expertise spanning rare diseases, AAV-based gene therapy, immunotherapy, oncology, CAR-T cell therapies and CMC to his new role at Kite Pharma.

Janani Krishnamurthy
Senior Scientist, Atara Biotherapeutics
An expert in the fields of immunology, adoptive immunotherapy and neuroimmunology, Dr Janani Krishnamurthy enjoyed stints at MD Anderson, bluebird bio and TCR2 Therapeutics before taking on her current role leading EBV+ve CAR T cell pre-clinical initiatives for targeting solid tumours at Atara Biotherapeutics.

Tamara J Laskowski
Senior Research Scientist – Immunotherapy, Allison Group Department of Immunology, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Having originally joined Dr Laurence J.N. Cooper’s laboratory as a fellow, where her work focused on engineering stem cells with the goal of generating off-the-shelf NK and T-cell immunotherapies for targeting solid tumor malignancies, Dr Tamara Laskowski recently transitioned to Dr. James Allison’s Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center. In her new role Dr. Laskowski’s work primarily involves immune-monitoring of patients undergoing clinical trials in Immunotherapy and development of novel immunoassays.

John O’Rourke
Head of Product Development, Cell Analytics, Intellicyt, A Sartorius Company
John O’Rourke completed his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from The Ohio State University where he studied cancer biology and gene regulation. During his postdoctoral training at Nationwide’s Children’s Research Institute and the University of New Mexico, he continued his studies in cancer biology along with the development of viral and nanoparticle-based therapeutics. John O’Rourke completed his MBA at the Andersen School of Management at the University of New Mexico and joined IntelliCyt in 2017.

DOI: 10.18609/cgti.2019.096
Citation: Cell & Gene Therapy Insights 2019; 5(5), 803-817.
Open access

The ability to genetically engineer T cells with synthetic molecules, such as chimeric antigen receptors (CAR), and redirect the cells to user-defined targets on cancer cells marks the beginning of a new era in medicine.

In the context of the broader immuno-oncology therapy revolution, CAR-Ts differ from therapies such as checkpoint inhibitors in that they can sense and respond to their microenvironment. This makes these cell-based therapies very challenging to manipulate, manufacture, and control.

Although the success of the CD19-directed, FDA-approved CAR-T cell therapies, Kymriah and Yescarta, has been remarkable, the field still awaits a clear demonstration of clinical efficacy in solid tumors – a challenge which is becoming the defining issue in cellular immunotherapy as a new decade approaches. CGTI recently put a series of related questions to an Expert Roundtable panel comprising leaders from the academic, biopharma and enabling tool provider communities: where are we today, what are the most intriguing new approaches on the horizon, what are the biggest hurdles we need to overcome, and how can we address these challenges from both technological and clinical standpoints?

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