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Clinical trials underway at Fred Hutch and elsewhere of CAR T cells for cancer have shown promising early results. These still-experimental therapies genetically reprogram a patient’s own T cells — a type of immune cell that searches out and destroys abnormal or infected cells — with synthetic receptors called chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs, to target cancer or a selected pathogen. One such therapy developed in June’s lab for advanced childhood leukemia is on the brink of becoming the first CAR T-cell therapy to win U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
June first became interested in T cells as an oncology fellow at Fred Hutch from 1983 to 1986, where he came to study bone marrow transplantation, “the first form of immunotherapy,” he told conference attendees.
“One of the things we feel strongly about is involving the community,” said Jerome at the conference opening.
Talk at the conference included these and other approaches, including research on a slow-release form of antiretroviral therapy that would work in combination with the CRISPR gene-editing tool and a study on broadly neutralizing antibodies that may be able to stop the establishment of the HIV reservoir in infants born with HIV if given within the first two days of life.