Tom Van Blarcom, PhD, on Bringing CAR-T Constructs From Oncology to B-Cell Driven Autoimmune Disease

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The senior vice president and head of research at Kyverna Therapeutics discussed the company’s investigational CAR-T therapies, KYV-101 and KYV-201.

“I think it’s a very exciting time seeing cellular therapies, in particular CAR T-cells, transition from the oncology setting into the autoimmune setting. One of the main things we're learning is that this [effort] has to be a really big partnership between oncology physicians who've been treating patients with CAR T-cells and these new physicians in rheumatology and neurology who have less or little-to-no experience with cellular therapies. Bringing both those communities together, as well as companies like [Kyverna] who are trying to develop these drugs, is a huge 3-way partnership...”

Over the past few years, chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapies have had a transformative impact on the field of oncology, especially in the realm of hematological malignancies, for which several CAR-T therapies are currently available as FDA-approved treatment options. Because these CAR-T therapies were designed to eliminate cancerous B-cells, several companies and academic institutions now seek to utilize CAR-T constructs against B-cell driven autoimmune diseases. One such company is Kyverna Therapeutics, which has licensed a fully-human antiCD19 construct developed by the National Institutes of Health. The company is developing an autologous version of this construct, KYV-101, and an allogeneic version, KYV-201, for the treatment of B-cell driven autoimmune disease indications.

At the Cell Therapy for Autoimmune Disease Summit, held November 28-30, 2023, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tom Van Blarcom, PhD, the senior vice president and head of research at Kyverna Therapeutics, delivered a session entitled, “Developing Allogeneic Cell Therapies for B-Cell Driven Autoimmune Diseases.” In the session, he discussed Kyverna’s progress in the development of both KYV-101 and KYV-201.

In an interview with CGTLive™ held shortly after the session, Van Blarcom went over the backstory of these therapeutics and the key points of his presentation. He emphasized that in early clinical data, the version of the autologous construct that Kyverna is testing in autoimmune disease seems to be showing a stronger safety profile than the constructs used in FDA-approved CAR-T therapies in oncology. Van Blarcom also highlighted the need for collaboration between oncologists, physicians who specialize in autoimmune disease, and companies like Kyverna to help bring novel cell therapies to patients.

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