Publish Date: 
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 11:00

Can a patient’s own immune cells be modified to cure a rare and deadly type of lymphoma?

Professor Maher Gandhi, CEO of Mater Research and Director of Mater Research Institute-UQ, is leading a multi-site Phase I clinical trial to investigate new cell-based immunotherapies for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, a rare sub-type of lymphoma. 

While B-cell lymphoma can successfully be treated in most patients, 15-20 per cent of diffuse lymphoma cases are unresponsive to conventional first-line therapy, known as primary refractory disease. “This is a rare but deadly cancer with an overall survival of only six months,” Professor Gandhi said.

Working closely with his research team Professor Gandhi will use a proven trial design to rapidly identify patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma who go on to develop primary refractory disease.  Once identified, the team will modify the patient’s own T-cells to fight the cancer.

“T-cells are often called the workhorses of the immune system and in this trial we will be giving a patient their own T-cells back, after they have been modified into chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells to fight the cancer,” Professor Gandhi said. “It is like giving them a ‘living drug’ and we hope that these cells will be able to recognise and kill cancer cells.”

“The clinical trial is less complex than current clinical trials but we expect outcomes that are equally efficient and less expensive. Current clinical trials using CAR T-cells work well against relapsed B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders, but access is limited, and it is a highly expensive at roughly $600 000 per patient.”

Patients will be recruited through the Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group, the only not-for-profit blood cancer clinical trial group in Australia and New Zealand.  The Princess Alexandra Hospital and the Mater Hospital Brisbane will be amongst the enrolment sites for the clinical trial and enabling patients who meet the requirements of the study to be identified and recruited as clinical trial participants. The five year trial is due to commence in 2020.

This trial is supported by the MRFF Rare Cancers, Rare Disease and Unmet Need Clinical Trials Program. 

Read the original article here

Image: Professor Maher Gandhi.