Is the leukemia busting CAR-T cell therapy, championed by Aussie-listed Prescient, the holy grail of cancer treatments? The latest research out of the journal Nature suggests it could be.

“We can now conclude that CAR-T cells can actually cure patients with leukaemia,” Dr Carl June told reporters at a press briefing describing the show-stopping results published last week.

The findings in Nature, were highlighted by renowned CAR-T expert and researcher Dr Carl June, who called a press conference over the evidence CAR-T cells are still active in two patients with lymphocytic leukaemia, first treated with the novel therapy 10 years ago.

The patients achieved complete remission in 2010 – within months of being treated – meaning all symptoms of the disease had been alleviated.

The journal’s analysis of the peer-reviewed data describes the long-term success of the CAR-chimeric antigen receptor – T cell (CAR-T cell) therapy in keeping patients with certain blood cancers in long-term remission, sparking hopes for cancer research and for next-gen CAR-T developers Prescient Therapeutics (ASX:PTX) more specifically.

CAR-T cell therapy weaponises T-cells – a type of white blood cell – to recognise and destroy cancer cells.

Of course, cancer is more than adept at evading the immune response, so garden variety T-cells often miss the malignancy. CAR T-cells, however, have proven particularly successful with blood cancers.

In the US, UK and in several other countries, CAR-T cell therapies have been approved for some blood cancers, and both sufferers and scientists are hopeful there will soon be similar treatments for other types of cancers.

The c-word

The findings are encouraging for Prescient, which has been making progress on its next-gen OmniCAR T-cell therapy programs which aim to bring these positive responses to more patients suffering a range of different cancers.

What has really drawn the attention of Prescient CEO Steven Yatomi-Clarke and made headlines around the world was Professor June’s decision to use the word ‘cure’.

It’s an expression doctors are reluctant to use in the context of cancer, fearing it can give people false hope.

“Cancer doctors don’t use words like ‘cure’ lightly or, frankly, very often. Instead, oncologists speak about delaying progression of disease, about improving quality of life and even improving rates of survival at five years after treatment, but we’ve not dared to use the word ‘cure’,” Yatomi-Clarke said.

“For a doctor of Carl June’s immense standing to make such a bold declaration has reverberated around the world.”

“We can comfortably say now that CAR-T has at least some curative potential for leukaemia patients like those seen in this study.”

Next generation CAR-T cell therapy

Yatomi-Clarke said such results from technology which is now more than a decade old are particularly exciting given how much the field has exploded over recent years.

“It makes you wonder what this next generation, which we’re at the forefront of, might be able to do,” he said.

“Our next generation technology is from the same institute, no less, who pioneered the first generation of CAR-T – they’re both from University of Pennsylvania. It also incorporates technology from Oxford University and other assets.”

“It’s about bringing that curative intent to many more types of cancers, both other blood cancers and certainly solid tumours, which is a holy grail for CAR-T.”

Leading the race

Yatomi-Clarke said research into CAR-T cell therapy is growing world-wide, but Prescient was still ahead with its unique OmniCAR platform.

The company recently presented new OmniCAR pre-clinical data at the Cell & Gene Meeting on the Mesa in California, a leading forum for the international medical and investment community focused on new cell therapies.

The data, some of which is world-first, outlined the key attributes of OmniCAR to generate CAR-T cell therapies that can be controlled post-infusion, re-armed, and redirected from one cancer antigen to another.

The company also received a crucial accreditation by the Office of the Gene Regulator (OTGR), which enables a company to conduct clinical trials in Australia involving gene-edited cells such as CAR-T therapies.

In studies, Prescient’s OmniCAR platform has demonstrated that it could overcome the limitations of traditional CAR-T treatments for cancer.

Experts from the Moffitt Cancer Center and University of Pennsylvania recently joined its scientific board to guide the company in this emerging field.

“The whole CAR-T field is exploding now, it’s quite amazing and hard to keep up, so it is such a pleasure being ahead of the curve with the OmniCAR platform,” he said.

This article was developed in collaboration with Prescient Therapeutics, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.