Why research on hematologic malignancies is ramping up

Micrograph of a plasmacytoma, a hematological malignancy. [Image courtesy of Wikipedia]

Oncology has benefited from a wave of advances in recent decades. From 1991 to 2018, the age-adjusted overall cancer death rate dropped 31%, according to an analysis from American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). That death rate dropped 2.4% between 2017 and 2018, marking the most significant annual reduction.

The reasons for such improvements are multifaceted, including falling smoking rates, improved diagnosis and more effective drugs.

The popularity of immunotherapy has played a vital role in improving treatment outcomes of certain cancers. “It is amazing to think about how much immunotherapy has changed the practice of oncology,” recently wrote Dr. John M. Burke in Targeted Oncology. Burke, a hematologist and medical oncologist at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, said data from the past two decades…

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Kyverna Therapeutics wins $85 million in Series B financing

The cell therapy company Kyverna Therapeutics (Emeryville, California) has closed an oversubscribed $85 million Series B funding round led by Northpond Ventures.

The company plans to use the funding to launch a Phase 2 trial for its lead asset, KYV-101, in the first half of 2022.

KYV-101 is an autologous anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) construct with potential applications in B cell-driven autoimmune diseases, including lupus nephritis, systemic sclerosis and inflammatory myopathies.

Kyverna secured rights to KYV-101 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for autologous and allogeneic CAR T-cell therapies.

Kyverna will also use the most recent funding to further the development of KYV-201, an investigational candidate that integrates its CD19 CAR T construct with Intellia’s (NSDQ:NTLA) ex vivoCRISPR/Cas9-based allogeneic platform.

The company also intends to use its recent funding to bolster its development activiti…

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Janssen’s global head of R&D opens up on CAR-T research, data science and beyond

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen division (NYSE:JNJ) was among the first drug companies to prioritize oncology research.

The company has more than three decades of experience in the domain. Recently, CAR-T therapy has become “one of the most exciting areas of research for cancer and other diseases for the company, said Mathai Mammen, global head of R&D for Janssen, in a recent interview.

In the following Q&A, Mammen provides an overview of the company’s CAR-T research while also touching on its work to revise the treatment of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). He also touches on new potential indications for Nipocalimab, a fully-human aglycosylated immunoglobulin (Ig)G1 monoclonal antibody, and dishes on the company’s investment in data science in the development of drugs and vaccines.

Drug Discovery & Development: Could you provide a brief overview of Janssen’s work on CAR-T (including ciltacabt…

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Allogene Therapeutics’ stock drops 46% after FDA puts hold on AlloCAR-T trials

Today, the allogeneic CAR-T company Allogene Therapeutics (NSDQ:ALLO) saw its stock dip to the lowest level since its IPO in 2018.

The company announced that FDA had placed a hold on its AlloCAR T clinical trials after the identification of a chromosomal abnormality in a patient enrolled in its ALPHA2 study (NCT04416984). That trial was a Phase 1/2 study involving 30 patients with relapsed/refractory large B-Cell lymphoma. The study related to the allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy ALPHA2 (ALL0-501A).

“The data generated from our past trials supports a favorable clinical profile for ALL0-501A in patients with large B-cell lymphoma, which underlies our mission to provide allergenic CAR-T therapies, faster and more reliably to patients suffering from some of the most difficult to treat cancers,” said David Chang, president and CEO of Allogene Therapeutics in an investor briefing.

The company stated that its lots of CAR-T cells undergo extensive testing, includi…

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