Researching the Potential of Cell & Gene Therapies
Apr 21, 2016
By Usman (Oz) Azam, Global Head of Cell & Gene Therapies Unit (CGTU), Novartis
The field of cell and gene therapies is rapidly evolving, and it represents a promising new pillar in the area of immuno-oncology. In recent years, we have taken great strides to expand the potential of cell and gene therapies by forging strategic partnerships, building our manufacturing capabilities and advancing clinical research.
One of the most exciting developments in this field has been the advent of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) therapies. CAR Ts represent a new class of individualized “immunocellular” therapies under investigation in which T cells (a type of white blood cell) are drawn from a patient’s blood and reprogrammed. The CAR T cells are then infused into the patient where they become a new part of the patient’s immune system.
Like all investigational therapies, CAR Ts are not without side-effects or risks, but we are researching their potential as a new treatment for patients who presently have limited options. In time, I believe that cell and gene therapies will become a standard part of the cancer treatment paradigm, but for now, we continue to work as hard as possible to make that vision a reality for the patents we serve.
CAR Ts are investigational and have not been approved by the FDA or other health authorities. Efficacy and safety have not been established. There is no guarantee they will become commercially available.