[EPISODE 24] Dr. David Berkowitz Talks Enzymes, Radiation, And The Lincoln Marathon
On this episode of Molecular Moments, Chad Briscoe speaks with Dr. David Berkowitz, Director of the Division of Chemistry at
BioAgilytix is privileged to contribute to the exciting and promising new field of immunotherapy by supporting innovative CAR-T therapy programs. Working in collaboration with sponsors, we utilize our strengths in cell-based assays to assist with the characterization of these cells.
Immunotherapy empowers a patient’s own immune system to locate and destroy cancer cells. Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (or CAR T therapy) is the latest and most exciting anti-cancer therapy to make the news, with the FDA recently approving significant treatment breakthroughs in the form of CAR T-cell therapies: one to treat certain pediatric and young adult patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and another for diffuse large B cell lymphoma. Both treatments mark important milestones in cancer therapy.
CAR T-cell therapy involves the collection and genetic modification of T-cells in order to introduce a new gene that allows the CAR T-cells to target and kill the patient’s cancer cells. T-cells are extracted from the patient and infected with replication deficient retro- or lentiviruses that carry the gene for the engineered T-cell receptor. This gene is then incorporated into the nucleic DNA of the patient’s T-cells resulting in a “chimeric” T-cell, having the cellular immune functions of the host T-cells, but engineered to readily recognize and kill cancer cells. These chimeric T-cells are cultured to obtain the actual therapeutic suspended in growth media. These cells are then transfused back into the patient where the CAR-T cells seek and destroy the cancerous cells, usually within 2-4 weeks.
The results from clinical trials utilizing CAR-T are promising, as they show a very effective and efficient treatment with less severe side effects than those associated with chemo- or radiation therapy. Another advantage of CAR-T cell therapy is that this therapeutic can develop into dormant memory T-cells that will monitor the patient for possible relapse of the same cancer. Should relapse occur, the CAR T-cells become active again and proceed to destroy the reoccurring cancer cells.
From the Blog
As the applications for CAR-T expands, more oncology patients will have the opportunity to take advantage of meaningful treatments. We discuss the impact that this drug modality can make for those fighting cancer.
CAR-T therapy is a novel approach to cancer treatment and therefore requires novel methods to monitor and quantify the progression and effects of the therapeutic. It needs to be characterized by immunophenotyping, usually by flow cytometry, and tested for the presence of the T-cell receptor gene, routinely performed using qPCR. Monitoring the possibility of reversion of the replication deficient retroviruses is also needed during production and treatment and can be monitored using RT-PCR and cell-based assays.
Patient symptoms must be monitored carefully during the 2-4 weeks post infusion to ensure that any serious side effects can be mitigated, and immunoassays (via ELISA, MSD, Luminex, etc.) are used to measure cytokines and potential anti-therapeutic antibodies generated by the patient’s immune system. Long term follow-up of the patient also involves monitoring the persistence of the CAR-T cells in the memory compartment of the cellular immune system. These can be detected by qPCR or cell-based proliferation assays.
BioAgiytix pairs our unique, highly specialized scientific capabilities with cutting-edge platforms to ensure delivery of reliable, timely, high-quality results from these range of assessments including:
Extremely promising advances in science and medicine now exist where none were available previously. There is much more to discover in the years ahead to as a bona fide treatment of blood cancers and, hopefully, other forms of cancer as well. The BioAgilytix team is dedicated to specializing in this novel cancer therapy to provide the data necessary to advance this important research.
Our teams in Boston, North Carolina, and Hamburg – all which average over 10 years of bench experience and are comprised of over 50% Ph.D. and Masters-level scientists – are ready to help you explore new ways to utilize CAR-T therapy to bring new treatment options to oncology patients.