Moffitt Cancer Center’s Dr. Frederick Locke champions promising investigational cancer treatment

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Dr. Frederick Locke champions promising investigational cancer treatment through a local clinical trial
Moffitt Cancer Center’s Dr. Frederick Locke champions promising investigational cancer treatment
Moffitt Cancer Center’s Dr. Frederick Locke champions promising investigational cancer treatment [ photo ]
Published May 11|Updated May 12

Getting access to cutting-edge cancer treatments can be life-changing for patients who are running out of options. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a revolutionary and game-changing new immunotherapy treatment for certain late-stage blood cancers. This treatment, known as chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, or autologous CAR T, broke the mold for oncology and ushered in a major advance in cancer treatment.

Here’s how it works: autologous CAR T therapy involves collecting a patient’s T-cells – those tasked with killing disease-causing pathogens – sending them to a manufacturing facility, then genetically engineering the cells to recognize and kill specific cancer cells. These reprogrammed cells are then infused back into the patient, where they help the immune system recognize and attack the tumor and help prevent the recurrence of cancer over time.

This treatment marked a major step forward in oncology, but, as excitement grew about the potential of autologous CAR T therapy, doctors were faced with a new challenge – treatment availability. The arduous, individualized manufacturing process and complex supply chain made it hard for drugmakers to keep up with growing demand, limiting access to patients who could benefit from treatment.

A recent survey of 50 healthcare providers from centers with CAR T capabilities commissioned by Allogene Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering the development of next-generation CAR T products for certain types of cancer,[i] found that of the cancer patients eligible for currently available CAR T treatment, only 12 percent were able to receive treatment within a month. Roughly 40 percent of patients had to wait three to six months or longer to receive treatment, even as their cancer progressed.

Oncologists in the field have turned their attention to novel ways to overcome the challenges autologous CAR T presents and help treat more people who needed it. Enter “off-the-shelf” allogeneic CAR T products.

Unlike first-generation autologous CAR T treatments, which are manufactured using T-cells from cancer patients, investigational allogeneic CAR T products use immune cells sourced from healthy donors, making them “off the shelf” in nature. This type of treatment has the potential to reduce long wait times, with patients initiating treatment in just two to five days. Allogeneic CAR T products also provide scalable manufacturing: The allogeneic CAR T treatment can be manufactured in large batches and kept frozen for on-demand delivery to eligible patients, helping to mitigate today’s escalating treatment access issues.

Locke and oncologists from preeminent research institutions nationwide have come together to champion allogeneic CAR T products through an initiative aptly named CAR T Together™. This is a first-of-its-kind effort to expedite development of “off-the-shelf” allogeneic CAR T products. Equal parts collaboration, innovation and compassion, CAR T Together harnesses the spirit of cooperation needed to bring about the next cell therapy revolution.

“Moffitt is well known as one of the most advanced research institutions in the country, offering patients access to promising investigational treatments, like allogeneic CAR T, before they are offered anywhere else,” said Dr. Locke. “The patients we see have fast-progressing disease and standard treatments have failed, so time is of the essence. It’s critical that we come together to help advance ‘off-the-shelf’ CAR T for patients with limited treatment options, and I look forward to continuing to partner with fellow investigators to expedite these efforts across the country.”

Moffitt is one of only six treatment centers authorized to administer CAR T in Florida[ii] and one of the few centers investigating allogeneic CAR T products.

To learn more about local CAR T clinical trials and find out if you could be a candidate, visit Moffitt Cancer Center or CAR T Together.

Sources used:

[i] Allogene data on file.

[ii] The ASCO Post. Treatment Centers Authorized to Administer CAR T-Cell Therapy.