David Porter, MD, on Researching CAR-T to Bring to Autoimmune Disease and Beyond


The director of Cell Therapy and Transplant at Penn Medicine discussed his outlook on CAR T-cell therapy research and the future.

“I think we're just scratching the surface. I think that right now, we know how to target B-cells, we know how to target that part of the immune system. So really, if you can think of any disease that may be mediated by abnormal B-cells and abnormal antibody production, you can think of targeting with CAR T-cells... you could certainly envision targeting other immune effector cells, depending on what the autoimmune diseases are, and so there's a lot of interest in trying to identify what those targets may be.”

The next wave in chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell research seems to be in the field of autoimmune diseases, with a record number of CAR T-cell therapies entering clinical trials in 2023. Although CAR T-cell therapies saw their start in treating hematological malignancies, trials for CAR T-cell therapies are being initiated for the potential treatment of diseases including lupus nephritis (LN) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), with earlier programs in other autoimmune diseases.

LN and SLE are B-cell-driven autoimmune diseases, which reflects a logical step from approved CAR T-cell therapies that target malignant B-cells. Therapies being investigated for these indications includeKyverna Therapeutics’ KYV-101 and Nkarta’s NKX019 in LN, ImmPACT Bio’s IMPT-514 and Gracell Bio’s GC012F in SLE, and Cabaletta Bio’s CABA-201 and Artiva Bio’s AB-101 being investigated in both SLE and LN.

CGTLive® spoke with David Porter, MD, director of Cell Therapy and Transplant and Jodi Fisher Horowitz Professor in Leukemia Care Excellence, University of Pennsylvania Medicine, to learn more about how CAR T-cell therapies are suited for treating autoimmune diseases. He noted that CAR constructs may have important factors in treating these diseases, but more research is needed to understand these effects. He also stressed that B-cell–driven autoimmune diseases are just the beginning, and as research better informs understanding of CAR-T's effects on targeting other cells, more indications will open up.

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