Scott McClellan, MD, on Overcoming Limitations of AlloHSCT With Novel Cell Therapies


The chief medical officer of Orca Bio discussed data the company presented on its Orca-T and Orca-Q programs at ASH 2023.

“...Certain races and ethnicities are underrepresented in our donor databases in the US so their transplant options can be limited. However, if you can safely give a haploidentical-derived cell therapy, then you can open up the promise of curative cell therapy to a lot more folks.”

The current standard of care for several hematological malignancies, such as acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, mixed phenotype leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia, and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), involves the use of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplants (alloHSCT). Although alloHSCT can provide curative potential in some patients, it comes with a number of risks that can prevent certain patients, especially those of older age, from receiving it. In addition, it is given with immunosuppressants that carry additional risks and requires a matched donor.

Orca Bio is attempting to address these issues with the development of 2 investigational cell therapies, Orca-T and Orca-Q, which are engineered using the company's high-precision platform. Orca-T consists of regulatory T-cells, CD34+ stem cells, and conventional T-cells from the peripheral blood of matched donors, whether they are related or not; Orca-Q consists of stem cells and specific T-cell subsets from haploidentical donors. At the 2023 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting & Exposition, held December 9-12, in San Diego, California, Orca Bio presented positive data from Orca-T in older patients with both myeloablative and reduced intensity conditioning, from Orca-T in patients with MDS, and from Orca-Q in patients with haploidentical donors.

CGTLive™ sat down with Scott McClellan, MD, the chief medical officer of Orca Bio, at the conference to learn more about these 2 cell therapies and the findings the company presented. He pointed out that Orca-T showed great tolerability in both younger and older patients and that among 33 patients treated with Orca-Q there were 0 cases of moderate-to-severe chronic graft versus host disease (GvHD) and only 1 clinically-significant (grade 3) case of acute GvHD.

1. Orca Bio presents positive data demonstrating the potential for Orca-T and Orca-Q to expand treatment to additional patient groups at the 65th ASH annual meeting. News release. Orca Bio. December 9, 2023. Accessed December 11, 2023.
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