Combating Leukaemia: German TV Broadcast on CAR T-Cell Therapy

The German regional TV station WDR broadcasted a contribution on December 12, 2017 on CAR T-cells focusing on the benefits for patients but mentioning also the high costs of the treatment and the severe side effects. One of the interview partners is Prof Klaus Cichutek, Head of Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI) who is also a partner in CARAT.

CAR T-cells offer a new treatment for leukaemia. In cases when chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation do not work, CAR T-cell therapy can serve as an alternative to save the patient’s life. The treatment is highly effective and specifically targeting leukaemia cells without killing other cells. It has recently been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Experts from Paul-Ehrlich-Institut expect that it will be approved also in Europe in the next months. Recent studies prove the high benefit of the treatment showing that tumours disappeared in 80% of the patients over several months. However, the persistence of the treatment needs to be proved.

Currently, the treatment is only available to patients below the age of 25 with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). It is expensive and has severe side effects. The next steps include reducing the side effects, extending the treatment to patients of all age groups as well as to other hematologic malignancies and solid tumours and to make the treatment less expensive.

In this context, CARAT is working on a novel GMP-compliant manufacturing platform to enable clinical researchers to safely generate in a closed and automated system genetically modified ATMPs (Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products) such as CAR T-cells products.

The broadcast is available here.