A novel type of cancer cell and gene therapy performed well in a phase 1 clinical trial that consisted of patients with mesothelioma. The therapy, called gavocabtagene autoleucel, or “gavo-cel” for short, involves training your own T-cells to effectively fight cancer as part of an immune system response.
The therapy shrunk treatment-resistant solid tumors, including mesothelioma, in the phase 1 clinical trial. Dr. Raffit Hassan, the Chief of the Thoracic and GI Malignancies Branch at the National Cancer Institute, reported the results.
What is Cell and Gene Therapy?
Cell and gene therapy is an emerging type of cancer treatment that harnesses the power of the human immune system to fight cancer without the toxic side effects often associated with chemotherapy or the risks associated with surgery.
The most well-known type of cell and gene therapy is CAR T-cell therapy, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. CAR T-cell therapy involves taking a patient’s own immune cells, specifically their T cells, and engineering them in a laboratory to more effectively locate and fight cancer. This is also called adoptive cell therapy.
What is Gavo-Cel?
The phase 1 study at the National Cancer Institute featured a novel therapy similar to CAR T-cell therapy. Doctors remove the patient’s T cells and engineer them with gavo-cell to target the protein mesothelin, which is prevalent in most cases of mesothelioma.
Gavo‑cel turns the body’s T cells into T‑cell receptor fusion construct T cells, or TRuC T cells. These modified T cells hunt for the mesothelin protein and kill any cells carrying it. Fortunately, non‑cancerous cells rarely express mesothelin.
Results From the Phase 1 Study
Gavo-cel was administered to 32 patients with either mesothelioma, ovarian cancer or a bile duct cancer called cholangiocarcinoma. Thirty of the 32 patients were evaluated for tumor response.
Of those 30 patients, 6 (20%) experienced at least a 30% reduction in tumor size thanks to the cell and gene therapy. Approximately 13% of the patients had durable tumor regression.
“This is one of the very few adoptive cell therapies in solid tumors that has shown objective tumor regressions,” Dr. Hassan said on the NCI website. “This is proof of principle that TruC T cells work and we can get responses, even in heavily pretreated patients.”
Dr. Hassan is reportedly beginning a phase 2 trial using a similar T-cell therapy concept for solid tumors. He’s also developing a CAR T-cell therapy for mesothelioma that targets mesothelin and has plans for a clinical trial.
Sources & Author
- New T-cell therapy shrinks solid tumors in early-phase clinical trial. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from: https://ccr.cancer.gov/news/article/new-t-cell-therapy-shrinks-solid-tumors-in-early-phase-clinical-trial. Accessed: 08/06/2023.
- TCR2 Therapeutics’ Gavo-Cel Shrinks Tumors Across Multiple Mesothelin-Expressing Solid Cancers. Precision Oncology. Retrieved from: https://www.precisiononcologynews.com/cancer/tcr2-therapeutics-gavo-cel-shrinks-tumors-across-multiple-mesothelin-expressing-solid. Accessed: 10/01/2021.
Sources & Author