Evan Weber, PhD, on Improving CAR T-Cell Fitness


The assistant professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia discussed the role of the FOXO1 gene in T-cell persistence and exhaustion.

“I think the big picture here is that up until this point, a lot of the focus in the CAR T-cell field has been on target identification and creating different CAR architectures to promote different types of signaling in T-cells. But I think what our work and many other labs’ work shows now is that the quality of the T-cell is really a strong predictor of how well these therapies actually do in patients.”

Over the past 5 to 10 years, chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy has provided an important new treatment option for many patients with hematologic malignancies, and ongoing research holds the potential to apply this modality to a broader range of cancers, including solid tumors. Despite the successes seen so far with CAR-T therapies in clinical trials and in the real-world setting, the modality continues to have a number of limitations. One of these limitations is the phenomena of T-cell exhaustion, in which the CAR T-cells become less functional over time, and the limited persistence of CAR T-cells. It is thought that these phenomena may reduce the efficacy and durability of responses from CAR-T therapy, potentially leading patients to relapse. As such, methods to overcome T-cell exhaustion and enhance the persistence of CAR T-cells are a major area of focus for ongoing CAR-T research and development. Evan Weber, PhD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and his colleagues and have been researching the role of the FOXO1 gene in T-cell fitness and the potential of upregulating expression of this gene in order to improve the efficacy of CAR T-cells. Weber presented on this topic at the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT) 27th Annual Meeting, held May 7 to 10, 2024, in Baltimore, MD.

In an interview with CGTLive® at the conference, Weber explained the background behind this research and the key findings obtained so far. He highlighted that overexpression of FOXO1, a transcription factor implicated in T-cell memory, in human T-cells allowed for improved clearance of leukemia and solid tumors in his lab’s mouse models. Weber also pointed out that manipulation of FOXO1 expression may also have broader applications in other forms of T-cell-based immunotherapy beyond CAR-T.

Click here to view more coverage of the 2024 ASGCT Annual Meeting.

1. Weber E. Augmenting CAR T cell fitness through memory reprogramming. Presented at: ASGCT Annual Meeting 2024, May 7-10; Baltimore, Maryland.

Related Videos
Nathan Yozwiak, PhD, on Researching AAV Gene Therapy Delivery to the Brain
Salvador Rico, MD, PhD, on Informing Clinical Trials With Natural History Studies in Dravet
Zheng-Yi Chen, DPhil, on International Collaboration on Clinical Trials
Janice Chen, PhD, the cofounder and chief technology officer of Mammoth Biosciences
Sekar Kethiresan, MD, on Following up VERVE-101 With Next-Generation Editing Therapies
Maria Escolar, MD, the chief medical officer of Forge Biologics
Leigh Ramos-Platt, MD, on Allowing Access and Ensuring Preparation for Gene Therapies
John Murphy, PhD, the chief scientific officer of Arbor Biotechnologies
Erika Fullwood Augustine, MD, MS, the associate chief science officer of the Kennedy Krieger Institute
Maria Escolar, MD, the chief medical officer of Forge Biologics
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.