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.
A study out of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina  cites using HemaCare leukopaks as the starting material for new research on allogeneic CAR T cells.
As most people know, the cancer fighting technique known as CAR T cell therapy has been getting a lot of attention these days, due to some remarkably positive clinical trial results. Two different versions of CAR T therapy have now earned FDA approval, so it seems that this type of therapy will inevitably be expanded to meet the needs of a considerably wider patient population. There’s a fairly large obstacle standing in the way of this expectation, however. Most clinical trials to date have been based on CAR T cell treatment as an autologous therapy, with the starting materials coming straight from the patients themselves. The problem with this autologous model is that it’s difficult to implement on a commercial scale, due to the limited availability of starting material.
An independent publication in Nature: Scientific Reports cites using fresh leukopaks sourced from HemaCare in their T cell cryopreservation study. The authors, who work at the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult in London, are studying the impact of cooling and thawing rates on cryopreserved human peripheral blood-derived T cells. In order for the emerging cell and gene therapy industry to effectively ship and store cell-based therapies to global markets, it will be necessary to cryopreserve cell therapy starting materials, as well as the final therapeutic products. To retain peak cellular function, and therefore therapeutic efficacy upon patient administration, it is necessary to understand how to optimize the cryopreservation process.