CAR T cell therapy has been one of the most exciting medical advances of this decade. As a type of immunotherapy, CAR T treatment consists of collecting patient-derived immune T cells, and genetically engineering them to recognize and fight invasive cancer cells. The first of these therapies to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, Novartis’ Kymriah®, and Gilead’s Yescarta® garnered international attention for their astonishing success rates in clinical trial.
A collaborative research effort on the part of 3 top-tier pharmaceutical companies cite using HemaCare sourced healthy donor PBMCs for their work on developing an allogeneic CAR T cell therapy.  CAR T therapies are among the most promising new cancer treatments approved by the FDA. These therapies have had remarkable success rates in people suffering from aggressive leukemia and lymphoma, who would otherwise be left without treatment options. The number of people who can be treated with this type of therapy is limited, however. CAR T treatment is an autologous therapy, relying on collecting and modifying a patient’s own T cells to fight their disease. Since cancer patients often suffer from a compromised immune system, it’s quite difficult to collect enough healthy T cells for treatment. Several research groups have been looking for a way to make an allogeneic CAR T cell treatment, in which T cells can be sourced from healthy donors.
The human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) research landscape is rapidly evolving. We recently discussed the current trend in stem cell research to streamline the production of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Recent exciting studies have indicated that harnessing iPSCs self-renewal ability to manufacture cell therapies is now becoming a reality. Just 4 years ago, the pharmaceutical company Takeda and The Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University entered a 10-year joint research collaboration. A few weeks ago, it was announced that Takeda has advanced the first product from its collaboration with CiRA - a highly scalable off-the-shelf CAR-T cell therapy to treat cancer - into pre-clinical development. Here, we briefly discuss the iCART science behind the Takeda study and its potential implications for an “off-the-shelf” CAR-T cell therapy.
A major breakthrough in Immunotherapy drug coverage was announced last week. Medicare will now cover high-priced blood cancer cell therapies nationwide. The news, announced by officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), comes two years after the FDA approved the first CAR-T therapy in 2017, Novartis’ Kymriah®, a treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This long sought-after coverage decision will now ensure patients have consistent and predictable access to potentially life-saving therapies.
Exciting new research published in Nature Communications cites using HemaCare leukapheresis material to design primary human T cells that may be more effective at fighting cancer than CAR-T cells. 
The successful treatment of B cell leukemias with genetically modified T cells heralded a new frontier in cell-based medicines. CAR-T cells, or chimeric antigen receptor T cells, have become the face of cell and gene therapy, with Novartis’ first-in-class Kymriah® prompting a robust pipeline of competitive CAR-T treatments. Now a research group in Cambridge, Massachusetts is taking T cell-based immunotherapy one step further. By changing the way T cells target cancer cells, they claim to have come up with a more effective cancer immunotherapy mechanism.