Tiffany Chen, PhD, on the Role of Preclinical Models in Cell Therapy Research for Autoimmune Disease


The vice president of discovery at GentiBio discussed the panel she participated in at the inaugural Cell Therapy for Autoimmune Disease Summit.

“I think [an] aspect that physicians will find very important is the safety of these cell therapies since that has become a big question as a whole for cancer. The risk tolerance is just better there because patients have cancer—they have limited time—and so they're willing to take these. [For] autoimmune disease patients, that might not necessarily be the case. As such, ensuring there's really good safety in these cell therapies is very important.”

Following up on the success that chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapies have had in oncology, many companies and institutions are now seeking to adapt CAR-T constructs and other T-cell therapy modalities such as T-regulatory (T-reg) cell therapy to the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Despite the promise of this approach, however, preclinical research assessing safety and efficacy is still an important step before novel cell therapies for autoimmune disease can be evaluated in clinical trials.

One aspect of this preclinical research, autoimmune disease modeling, was the focus of a panel discussion entitled “Developing Effective Pre-Clinical Models for Autoimmune Disease” at the Cell Therapy for Autoimmune Disease Summit, held November 28-30 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tiffany Chen, PhD, the vice president of discovery at GentiBio, was one of several speakers on the panel.

Shortly after the panel, CGTLive™ sat down with Chen on the conference floor to learn more about preclinical models in cell therapy for autoimmune disease. Chen summarized the key takeaways of the discussion and noted that some autoimmune disease indications have well-established preclinical models while others do not. She also pointed out that translation of results from animal studies to clinical settings can be especially challenging due to the nature of cell therapy, even when well-established disease models are used. Chen concluded by emphasizing the importance of the sharing of knowledge from physicians and healthcare workers to companies and academic institutions, and vice versa, as the field of cell therapy continues to evolve.

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