NYMC Faculty Publications


CAR-T "the Living Drugs", Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors, and Precision Medicine: a New Era of Cancer Therapy

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November 2019




New advances in the design and manufacture of monoclonal antibodies, bispecific T cell engagers, and antibody-drug conjugates make the antibody-directed agents more powerful with less toxicities. Small molecule inhibitors are routinely used now as oral targeted agents for multiple cancers. The discoveries of PD1 and PD-L1 as negative immune checkpoints for T cells have led to the revolution of modern cancer immunotherapy. Multiple agents targeting PD1, PD-L1, or CTLA-4 are widely applied as immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) which alleviate the suppression of immune regulatory machineries and lead to immunoablation of once highly refractory cancers such as stage IV lung cancer. Tisagenlecleucel and axicabtagene ciloleucel are the two approved CD19-targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell products. Several CAR-T cell platforms targeting B cell maturation antigen (BCMA) are under active clinical trials for refractory and/or relapsed multiple myeloma. Still more targets such as CLL-1, EGFR, NKG2D and mesothelin are being directed in CAR-T cell trials for leukemia and solid tumors. Increasing numbers of novel agents are being studied to target cancer-intrinsic oncogenic pathways as well as immune checkpoints. One such an example is targeting CD47 on macrophages which represents a "do-not-eat-me" immune checkpoint. Fueling the current excitement of cancer medicine includes also TCR- T cells, TCR-like antibodies, cancer vaccines and oncolytic viruses.