Cellular Immunotherapies in Cambridge

Recent months have seen increasing excitement over the new wave of cellular immunotherapies. These complex novel treatments use immune cells that are taken from a patient, genetically modified with a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) to target a specific cancer, expanded into large numbers and then re-infused. In 2018 Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust ran a successful first-in-NHS trial of a similar therapy for metastatic melanoma, and subsequently has been selected as one of only three UK centres for Zuma-8, a major international study of CAR T-cells in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Following inspections of the site by Kite, one of the two largest CAR T-cell manufacturers, the study is scheduled to open in Cambridge in October.
The success of the Cellular Immunotherapy programme in Cambridge led in April to the selection of Cambridge University Hospitals as one of three new national centres in the second wave of NHS providers of CAR T-cell therapy. NHS England tariffs have been set at a level that is designed to allow appropriate investment in staffing and infrastructure for these complex therapies.
Ben Uttenthal, Lead for Immune Effector Cell Therapies, said ‘This is fantastic news for patients in our region, who will now have access to these cutting edge treatments for cancer. We expect to have treated our first NHS patients with CAR T-cell therapy, for high grade B cell lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, before the end of this year. The clinical infrastructure that we are putting in place for this will give a real boost to translational research in cellular immunotherapies here in Cambridge.’

25 Feb 2020