No Lack of Enthusiasm for CAR-T Development, Experts Say

Robert H. Carlson, MBA


November 30, 2016

In This Article

CAR-T vs Checkpoint Inhibitors

Dr Grupp summed up the comparisons between the two major players in immunotherapy.

"The CAR-T story to me is one of very high efficacy, but in a very limited group of diseases—essentially B-cell leukemia and lymphoma. There's some information in multiple myeloma now, but nothing in the solid tumor space at all. But there are much higher efficacy rates, and more prospects for a longer-term benefit to those patients," he said.

"The checkpoint inhibitor story is one of efficacy in a surprising number of very difficult tumors, such as melanoma and some lung cancers—but only in a smaller subset of patients, and not long-lasting in all of them. But still, it's very exciting in patients in whom previously, there was nothing that worked at all," he said.

Companies producing checkpoint inhibitors are trying them across the adult solid tumor field, so there is a lot of opportunity there, and a lot to learn, Dr Grupp said. "And because there are a lot more adult patients with solid tumors than there are kids with leukemia, obviously there is a potential for broader applicability," he added.

Checkpoint inhibitors do not have the most efficient production process yet

Dr Roy said that checkpoint inhibitors have an easier business model because the pharma industry has been working on monoclonal antibodies for many years, for cancers and other diseases.

"Pharmaceutical companies know how to make monoclonal antibodies, and they know how to charge for them," Dr Roy said. "Maybe checkpoint inhibitors do not have the most efficient production process yet and there is a lot of improvement that can be done to get costs down, but there is a basic understanding of how the manufacturing works.”

"On the T-cell side, the business model is still being worked out, and it is a harder business model owing to the logistical issues, because cells are very much more complex entities than monoclonal antibodies," he said.


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