Ben Creelan, MD, on the Potential of Cell Therapy in Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer


The medical oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center discussed 3 different approaches to cell therapy that could lead to new treatment options in the field.

“...With cell therapy, you have the potential for memory T-cells. Normal T-cells in our body last 6 to 8 days and then they die. Memory T-cells last in our body 60 to 80 years, which is why we don't usually get chickenpox twice—it's those memory T-cells. So, if we can get memory T-cells specific against tumor antigens that are able to continually patrol and destroy tumor cells as they arise over the course of decades, we have a better chance of getting a real meaningful regression of cancers.”

The current standard of care for stage 4 non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a combination treatment consisting of repeated dosing with carboplatin, pemetrexed, and pembrolizumab. Unfortunately, the progression-free survival (PFS) rate at 5 years for patients in this population is only 7%. Even in earlier disease settings, such as the stage 2 to 3 resected setting, currently available options like osimertinib have PFS rates that leave much to be desired. As such, there is a great need for continued development of new treatments for NSCLC. One promising modality on the horizon is cell therapy. Although cell therapy, mainly in the form of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy, has already helped to transform the landscape of care for several hematological malignancies, adapting the modality to the treatment of solid tumors will require the use of some new innovations.

In an interview with CGTLive™, Ben Creelan, MD, a medical oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center who specializes in the treatment of lung cancer and in oncology cell therapy research, discussed the current state of care in NSCLC and cell therapy’s potential to change this landscape. In particular, he spoke about 3 different approaches to cell therapy that show promise: tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapies, bispecific T-cell engagers that target tumor-specific antigens like DLL3, and claudin antigen-directed CAR-T therapies. He noted that TIL therapies are currently the furthest along in terms of research, with Moffit itself having conducted a phase 1 trial with a TIL therapy. Although, he pointed out that the other 2 approaches are more sophisticated in terms of how they work because they target specific tumor antigens.

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