A University of Pennsylvania-developed personalized immunotherapy has been awarded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Breakthrough Therapy designation for the treatment of relapsed and refractory adult and pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The investigational therapy, known as CTL019, is the first personalized cellular therapy for the treatment of cancer to receive this important classification.
In early-stage clinical trials at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 89% of ALL patients who were not responding to conventional therapies went into complete remission after receiving CTL019.
The investigational treatment pioneered by the Penn team begins by removing patients' T cells via an apheresis process similar to blood donation, then genetically reprogramming them in Penn’s Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility. After being infused back into patients’ bodies, these newly built “hunter” cells both multiply and attack, targeting tumor cells that express a protein called CD19. Tests reveal that the army of hunter cells can grow to more than 10,000 new cells for each single engineered cell patients receive.
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