Rebecca Epperly, MD, on Research Considerations as CAR-T Therapy Comes of Age


The clinical investigator in the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation & Cellular Therapy at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital discussed several areas of interest for research now that CAR-T is here to stay.

“My focus is to think about how to live at that intersection between the lab and the clinic and how to take what we're learning from patients that we're treating and the correlative of biology that we're doing now and then find new ways to make better products in the lab and move them forward into the clinical space.”

Over the past few years, chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy has established itself as an important modality in the treatment of relapsed/refractory hematological malignancies in both adults and children. As CAR-T is now a permanent fixture of the treatment landscape, and continues to progress towards both earlier line use and expanded applications to new indications, several areas of interest have emerged for further consideration, such as the potential late effects of CAR-T therapy several years posttreatment; methods of avoiding immune escape and T-cell exhaustion; and ways to broaden access to CAR-T products.

Rebecca Epperly, MD, a clinical investigator in the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation & Cellular Therapy at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, discussed several of these areas of interest across 2 presentations she gave at the 2024 Tandem Meetings |Transplantation & Cellular Therapy Meetings of ASTCT and CIBMTR, held in San Antonio, Texas, February 21-24, 2024. In an interview with CGTLive® on the conference floor, Epperly spoke about the key points of her talks and the main takeaways for the healthcare community. She spoke about CD19/CD20 bispecific CAR-T therapy as a potential option to overcome immune escape and a gene editing approach to improve T-cell persistence, both of which are being evaluated by her and her colleagues. Epperly also went over specific gaps in knowledge for late effects of CAR-T, spoke about the importance of improving access to CAR-T products for patient populations, and emphasized the importance of collaboration among researchers and of learning as much as possible from every individual patient who is treated with a CAR-T product.

Click here for more coverage of Tandem 2024.

1. Epperly R. Translating cellular therapies for high-risk pediatric malignancies. Presented at: 2024 Tandem Meetings, February 21-24, San Antonio, Texas.
2. Epperly R. Late effects and the survivorship experience in children and young adults following receipt of adoptive cellular therapy. Presented at: 2024 Tandem Meetings, February 21-24, San Antonio, Texas.
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