Category Archives: Stem Cell Treatment

Belumosudil Granted Full Approval for Treatment of Chronic GVHD by FDA – Cancer Network

The ROCK-2targeting agent belumosudil is now approved by the FDA to treat adult and pediatric patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease after 2 prior lines of therapy.

The agent belumosudil (Rezurock) may now be used to treat adult and pediatric patients 12 years of age and older with chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) who have been unsuccessfully treated with 2 prior lines of therapy, according to the company responsible for the agent, Kadmon Holdings, Inc.1

This approval follows a priority review for the new drug application (NDA) that was granted back in November for the Rho-associated coiled-coil kinase 2 (ROCK2) inhibitor.2 The submission of the NDA was supported by data from the phase 2 ROCKstar (KD025-213) trial (NCT03640481) of belumosudil at 200 mg daily or twice daily in patients with previously treated cGVHD.

REZUROCK represents a new treatment paradigm for thousands of cGVHD patients, including those with difficult-to-treat manifestations like fibrosis, Corey Cutler, MD, MPH, FRCPC, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Medical Director of the Adult Stem Cell Transplantation Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said in a press release. REZUROCK has shown robust and durable responses across the spectrum of cGVHD and is safe and well tolerated, allowing patients to stay on therapy and achieve meaningful benefit from treatment.

The randomized, open-label, multicenter, pivotal trial treated 65 patients at the once-daily dose, with a median time from diagnosis of 25.3 months. Of those, 48% of patients had at least 4 organs involved, 78% were refractory to their last therapy, and the median number of prior therapies was 3.

The objective response rate in the once-daily dose group was 75% (95% CI, 63%-85%) through cycle 7, day 1, comprised of 6% complete responses and 69% partial responses. The median response duration was 1.9 months.

The median time to first response was 1.8 months and 62% of patients did not require any new systemic therapy for 12 months following belumosudil treatment.

The agent appeared to be well tolerated and was consistent with the known profile of corticosteroids and/or other immunosuppressants in this setting.

Patients receiving REZUROCK reported significant improvements in cGVHD symptoms, showing that not only did treatment result in organ responses, but it also made people feel better. This is so important for a chronic disease with a high symptom burden, Stephanie Lee, MD, MPH, Professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington School of Medicine and Research Director of the Long-Term Follow-Up Program at Fred Hutchinson, said in a press release.

References

1. U.S. FDA Grants Full Approval of REZUROCK(TM) (belumosudil) for the Treatment of Patients with Chronic Graft-Versus-Host Disease (cGVHD). Kadmon Holdings, Inc. July 16, 2021. July 16, 2021. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-fda-grants-full-approval-182000289.html

2. Kadmon Announces FDA Acceptance of NDA for Belumosudil in Patients With Chronic Graft-Versus-Host Disease. Kadmon Holdings, Inc. November 30, 2020. July 16, 2021. https://investors.kadmon.com/news-releases/news-release-details/kadmon-announces-fda-acceptance-nda-belumosudil-patients-chronic

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Belumosudil Granted Full Approval for Treatment of Chronic GVHD by FDA - Cancer Network

Dr. Martin on the Role of Maintenance Therapy With Rituximab in MCL July 15th 2021 Peter – OncLive

Peter Martin, MD, discusses the role of maintenance therapy with rituximab in mantle cell lymphoma.

Peter Martin, MD, chief of the Lymphoma Program at the Meyer Cancer Center and an associate professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, discusses the role of maintenance therapy with rituximab (Rituxan) in mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).

Improved overall survival has been demonstrated with rituximab maintenance following R-CHOPbased therapy, as well as following autologous stem cell transplant, says Martin. However, the role of rituximab maintenance after bendamustine-based therapy had not been fully realized, Martin adds.

During the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting, findings from a retrospective, real-world analysis demonstrated that bendamustine/rituximab was the most used first-line therapy for patients with MCL in community-based practices in the United States. Additionally, the data suggested that rituximab maintenance following treatment yielded superior outcomes in patients, Martin says. As such, all patients should receive rituximab maintenance after bendamustine-based induction therapy unless they have contraindications, concludes Martin.

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Dr. Martin on the Role of Maintenance Therapy With Rituximab in MCL July 15th 2021 Peter - OncLive

Stemson Therapeutics Secures $15M Series A Funding to Cure Hair Loss – Business Wire

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Stemson Therapeutics announced today the closing of a DCVC Bio-led $15 million Series A financing to advance development of Stemsons proprietary therapeutic solution to cure hair loss. Genoa Ventures, AbbVie Ventures and other investors join in supporting Stemsons efforts to restore human hair growth with a novel cell regeneration technology using the patients own cells to generate new hair follicles.

In addition, Kiersten Stead, Ph.D., Co-Managing Partner at DCVC Bio and Jenny Rooke, Ph.D., Managing Director at Genoa Ventures will join Stemsons Executive Chairman Matt Posard and Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Geoff Hamilton on the board of directors. Dr. Stead invests in early-stage companies that build novel deep tech businesses in the life sciences. Stead received a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology & Genetics and an MBA in finance from the University of Alberta. Dr. Rooke is founder and Managing Director at Genoa Ventures where she specializes in early-stage companies innovating at the convergence of technology and biology. Rooke received a Ph.D. in Genetics from Yale University and a degree in physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

We are excited and honored to welcome DCVC Bio and a fantastic syndicate of investors to the Stemson team. The Series A funding will help us optimize our solution for human skin structure and environment so we can go into our first human clinical trial with high confidence for a positive outcome. We have the technical and biological building blocks to successfully address hair loss that overcomes failures of past therapies, said Hamilton. The addition of key venture capital investors DCVC Bio, Genoa Ventures and AbbVie Ventures broadens and strengthens our investor base. DCVC Bio and Genoa Ventures are successful early-stage development investors, and I am pleased to welcome Dr. Stead and Dr. Rooke, our newest board members, to the team. In addition, the AbbVie Venture investment comes on the heels of an initial seed investment from Allergan Aesthetics in 2020, and the continued industry interest in our technology is encouraging.

Globally, hundreds of millions of men and women suffer from various forms of hair loss. Though there are many possible causes of hair loss, including chemotherapy, autoimmune disease, scarring, and genetics, all can result in a loss of self-esteem and cause depression, anxiety and other mental health disruption for those affected. The hair restoration market is expected to exceed $13.6 billion by 2028, and no solution today is capable of generating an unlimited new supply of healthy follicles for patients in need.

Almost 30 years have passed since the last FDA-approved hair loss treatment, yet millions still suffer the physical and mental impact of losing their hair each year, stated Dr. Stead. Stemsons novel stem cell engineering platform has the potential to cure hair loss once and for all, treating not only the physical symptoms of this complex problem, but the mental burden as well.

"The team at Genoa is impressed with Stemsons vision to blend biology and technology and apply it beyond traditional biotech," added Dr. Rooke. "By combining exciting advancements in iPSCs with novel technologies in materials and data sciences, Stemson exemplifies the kind of chimeric teams Genoa seeks to support on their journey to become a category-defining company."

The Series A financing brings the total funding raised to date to $22.5 million and allows Stemson to further the next stage of research and development of its cell engineering platform, where is it being combined with bioengineered material and robotic delivery as a novel solution for natural hair replacement. Currently, Stemsons research and development efforts are focused on developing an optimized solution for human skin structure environment in larger animal models. Stemsons Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) based technology is capable of producing the cell types required to initiate hair follicle growth and have been successfully tested in small animal models.

About Cell Regeneration Technology

Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) have the unique capability to replicate indefinitely and give rise to all cell types of the human body, including the cell types required for repair. iPSC-based technology is capable of producing the cell types required to initiate hair follicle growth. As a new therapeutic platform, iPSCs represent an emerging area of regenerative cell therapy. Stemson is one of a growing number of companies at the forefront in developing iPSC-based treatments.

About DCVC Bio

For over twenty years, DCVC and its principals have backed brilliant entrepreneurs applying Deep Tech, from the earliest stage and beyond, to pragmatically and cost-effectively tackle previously unsolvable problems in nearly every industry. DCVC Bio specializes in supporting life sciences platform companies at the intersections of engineering and therapeutics, industrial biotechnology and agriculture. For more information, please visit https://www.dcvc.com/companies.html#dcvc-bio

About Genoa Ventures

Genoa Ventures invests in early-stage companies working at the convergence of biology & technology to accelerate the pace of innovation, transform industries, and solve some of the most fundamental challenges to life. Genoa, identifies opportunities early and focuses its investments and expertise to empower the next great category-defining companies. The Genoa team has a unique chimeric blend of experience from scientific research and discovery to executive management in the life sciences and technologies sectors. The team applies this diverse experience to provide expert guidance to its companies and stellar returns to its investors.

About AbbVie Ventures

AbbVie Ventures is the corporate venture capital group of AbbVie. We are a strategic investor, investing exclusively in novel, potentially transformational science aligned with AbbVie's core R&D interests. We measure success primarily by the extent to which our investments foster innovation with potential to transform the lives of patients that AbbVie serves. AbbVie Ventures enables its portfolio companies with both funding as well as access to AbbVie's internal network of experts across all phases of drug development, from drug discovery through commercialization. For more information, please visit http://www.abbvie.com/ventures

About Stemson Therapeutics

Stemson Therapeutics is a pre-clinical stage cell therapy company founded in 2018 with a mission to cure hair loss by leveraging the regenerative power of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. Based on the breakthrough innovation by Stemson Therapeutics co-founder, Dr. Alexey Terskikh, Stemson uses iPSC to regenerate the critical cells required to grow hair and which are damaged or depleted in patients suffering from hair loss. The iPSC-derived cells are used to grow de novo hair follicles, offering a new supply of hair to treat people suffering from various forms of Alopecia. Today, there are no available treatments capable of growing new hair follicles. Stemsons world class team of scientists, advisors and collaborators are passionate about delivering a scientifically based, clinically tested cure for hair loss to the millions of hair loss sufferers who seek help for their hair loss condition. Stemson Therapeutics is headquartered in San Diego, CA. For more information, please visit http://www.stemson.com.

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Stemson Therapeutics Secures $15M Series A Funding to Cure Hair Loss - Business Wire

FDA tells Magenta to pump the brakes on blood cancer trial before it starts to develop new dosing test – FierceBiotech

Magenta Therapeutics has been asked by the FDA to pump the brakes on a trial for its blood cancer med before it even got started.

The FDA would like the biotech to develop an additional test to inform dose escalation and safety monitoring in the proposed phase 1/2 clinical trial, according to a Wednesday release.Magenta submitted a regulatory filing last month for the trial to test MGTA-117 in patients with the blood cancersacute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

Magenta said the additional test is the only request from the clinical hold letter. The agency did not institute any stops related to toxicology or manufacturing of the drug.

The exact date the study wasexpected to commence was not disclosed, but Magenta did report during first quarter earnings earlier this year that the company "expects to assess initial safety and pharmacokinetic data internally in the fourth quarter of 2021."

RELATED:Magenta stem cell transplant drug seems to work, but is it safe?

Work to develop the test has already begun,and Magenta does not anticipate technical challenges in the process, said President and CEO Jason Gardner in a statement. Magenta will work with the FDA to determine the new test's application for dose escalation, the company said.

"We expect to request a Type A meeting in the coming weeks and, if successful in resolving this remaining issue, we would anticipate opening the study in Q4 2021," Gardner said.

The antibody-drug conjugate is meant to selectively deplete hematopoietic stem cells from patients before transplant or stem cell-based gene therapy, which would reduce the need for high-dose or high-intensity chemotherapies, Magenta said.

MGTA-117 is initially being tested in AML and MDS, pending the FDA's future reassessment of the proposed clinical trial. Magenta believes the therapy has potential for applications across other blood cancers, sickle cell disease, inherited metabolic disorders and other areas. The CD117 receptortargeted by the drugis expressed on the cell surface of hematopoietic stem cells and leukemia cells.

RELATED:Aptinyx, Magenta lead biotech IPO flurry ahead of summer lull

In May 2020, Magenta linkedarms with Avrobio to evaluate the potential use of the drug to condition patients before receiving Avrobio's investigational lentiviral gene therapies. And, last June, the biotech teamedup with Beam Therapeutics on a research and clinical collaboration to assess the potential use of the drug to condition patients with sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia who are taking Beam's base editing therapies.

The company had more than $200 million in cash at the end of the second quarter, which is expected to provide a runway to execute on existing plans.Magenta shares were down more than 7%, to $8.25 apiece, as of 10:30 a.m. ET.

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FDA tells Magenta to pump the brakes on blood cancer trial before it starts to develop new dosing test - FierceBiotech

Events planned to support 5-year-old’s cancer treatments – The Augusta Chronicle

A blood drive and benefit ride to support 5-year-old Mason Burnettes cancer treatments is being held this week in Glascock County.

In January, just a few days after his fifth birthday, Mason Burnette was diagnosed with Stage IV high-riskNeuroblastoma, a form of childhood cancer.

Mason received more than10 platelet and blood transfusions. He successfully underwent an adrenalectomy after five rounds of chemotherapy treatments. Mason is expected to soon receive a stem cell transplant. His family is hosting a blood drive in honor of Mason to help spread the word on just how much donating blood can affect the lives of childhood cancer patients.

The blood drive, held in conjunction with Shepeard Blood Center, is scheduled for Thursday, July 22, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 437 East Main St. in Gibson.

The benefit ride will begin at Brassell Park in Gibson July 24at 10 a.m. with the approximately 50-mile ride pulling out around 11 a.m. Organizers welcomebikes, jeeps, hot rods, and any vehicles to take part.

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Events planned to support 5-year-old's cancer treatments - The Augusta Chronicle

HER2-Specific CAR T Cells Induce Early Efficacy Without Dose-Limiting Toxicities in Pediatric CNS Tumors – OncLive

The clinical evidence included high concentrations of C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 10 (CXCL10) and C-C motif chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum samples.

This interim report supports the feasibility of generating HER2-specific CAR T cells for repeated dosing regimens and suggests that their repeated intra-CNS delivery might be well tolerated and activate a localized immune response in pediatric and young adult patients, Nicholas Alexander Vitanza, MD, an assistant professor at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, and a staff member of the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Brain Tumor Program, Apheresis, at Seattle Childrens, and coauthors, wrote in the study publication.

Although the integration of CAR T-cell therapy has provided a novel therapeutic modality to manage multiple hematologic malignancies, the utility of CAR T cells is not fully understood for pediatric patients with CNS tumors.

HER2 offers a valid target for CAR T-cell therapy in CNS tumors because it is widely expressed on a significant proportion of biologically diverse CNS tumors such as ependymoma, glioblastoma, and medulloblastoma, as well as CNS cancer stem cells. Moreover, HER2 is not expressed on normal CNS tissue.

Monoclonal antibodies, such as trastuzumab (Herceptin), are beneficial for patients with some HER2-expressing cancers but have limited activity in CNS tumors that require a therapy that crosses the blood-brain barrier. CNS tumors also harbor less HER2 expression compared with malignancies like breast cancer.

As such, directly administering HER2-directed therapy to the tumor site could be a lucrative strategy for patients with CNS tumors.

Preclinical data demonstrated that spacer length was correlated with improved activity of HER2-specific CAR T cells. Based on this, the single-institution BrainChild-01 trial used a medium-length spacer HER2CAR to evaluate repeated locoregional delivery of HER2-specific CAR T cells for pediatric patients with recurrent or refractory CNS tumors.

Following CAR T-cell manufacturing, patients were treated in the outpatient setting for up to 6 courses. Course 1 consisted of 3 weeks of a 1 x 107 dose of CAR T cells (DL1), followed by clinical evaluation in week 4. Course 2 consisted of 1 week of DL1 treatment, 2 weeks of a 2.5 x 107 dose of CAR T cells (DL2), followed by clinical and radiographic evaluation in week 4. Courses 3 through 6 retained the same dosing schedule at the highest tolerated dosing levels, which included 2 additional tiers: 5 x 107 [DL3] and 10 x 107 [DL4].

The BrainChild-01 HER2CAR T-cell product was manufactured under a process designed to yield balanced numbers of CD4+ and CD8+ lentivirally transduced T cells exhibiting limited terminal differentiation with enrichment for the CAR+ population of cells mid-culture, Vitanza and coauthors wrote.

The initial 3 patients were required to be from 15 to 26 years old. This age group is more capable of self-reporting neurologic changes compared with a younger patient population, so they were specifically used for the initial evaluation.

The first eligible 3 patients underwent apheresis and had CAR T-cell products that were in-line with release criteria. As such, the patients were assigned to the appropriate treatment arms: repeated locoregional CNS infusion into the CNS tumor or tumor cavity (arm A; n = 1) vs repeated locoregional CNS infusion into the ventricular system (arm B; n = 2).

All patients had undergone at least 3 prior tumor-directed surgical procedures, at least 1 prior irradiation, and at least 1 prior chemotherapy regimen. Additionally, all patients had presumed pediatric biology of their tumors.

A 19-year-old female patient enrolled on arm A was diagnosed with WHO grade III localized anaplastic astrocytoma. She had 1.95 x 109 total nucleated cells manufactured and 1.87 x 109 EGFRt+ CAR T cells manufactured. She received 6 doses of treatment.

Both patients enrolled on arm B were males with WHO grade III metastatic ependymoma. The first, a 16-year-old, had 3.2 x 109 total nucleated cells manufactured, 2.97 x 109 EGFRt+ CAR T cells manufactured, and received 9 doses of treatment. The second patient, aged 26, had 2.06 x 109 total nucleated cells manufactured, 1.87 x 109 EGFRt+ CAR T cells manufactured, and received 9 doses of treatment. The latter patients product in arm B had initial failure of viability screening, but with 2 additional manufacturing attempts, enough CAR T cells were generated to complete a minimum of 2 treatment courses.

The study was designed to primarily assess feasibility, safety, and tolerability, with assessment of CAR T-cell distribution and disease response as secondary objectives.

Patients experienced post-treatment symptoms. One patient who underwent imaging experienced radiographic evidence of treatment-mediated localized CNS immune activation.

Additional results showed that the most common adverse effects (AEs) observed in all patients were headache, pain at metastatic sites of spinal cord disease, and transient worsening of a baseline neurologic deficit. Additionally, the 2 patients on arm B experienced fever within 24 hours following infusion. These AEs were deemed possibly, probably, or definitely related to CAR T-cell therapy.

Systemic C-reactive protein elevation was also noted in all patients and overlapped with the timing of headaches and/or pain.

Regarding CSF cytokines and radiographic imaging, CAR T cells were not detected in any patient at any time point following infusion in CSF via flow cytometry or in peripheral blood via quantitative polymerase chain reaction. NonCAR T cell populations of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were detected in CSF after infusion.

Cytokines, including CXCL10, CCL2, granulocyte colonystimulating factor, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, IFN2, IL-10, IL12-p70, IL-15, IL1, IL-6, IL-7, and tumor necrosis factor, were detected in the CSF following infusion. One patient also had elevated VEGF.

Additional studies are planned to evaluate the relationship between target antigen density and clinical toxicity and response.

With these findings, the trial is planned to enroll the broader age cohort of patients aged 1 to 26 years. Notably, the trial will include patients with diffuse midline glioma.

Two additional studies are also planned. BrainChild-02 (NCT03638167) will deliver EGFR-specific CAR T cells to pediatric patients with recurrent or refractory EGFR-positive CNS tumors. BrainChild-03 (NCT04185038) will deliver B7-H3specific CAR T cells to pediatric patients with recurrent or refractory CNS tumors or diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.

Gleaning the results of all 3 BrainChild studies, the investigators plan to use a multiplexed strategy to overcome tumor heterogeneity, which remains a challenge for drug development in this patient population, and antigen escape.

Ultimately, the experience of the initial three patients treated on BrainChild-01 suggests that repeated locoregional HER2-specific CAR T-cell dosing might be feasible and that correlative CSF markers might be valuable in assessing on-target CAR T-cell activity in the CNS, concluded Vitanza and coauthors.

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HER2-Specific CAR T Cells Induce Early Efficacy Without Dose-Limiting Toxicities in Pediatric CNS Tumors - OncLive

A mother’s love: Two years after devastating crash, Abby Roby has hope – London Free Press (Blogs)

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Wednesday marked the two-year anniversary of the day the lives of Abby Roby and her 19-year-old son Tristan Roby changed forever.

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But even on the anniversary of the date her son was seriously hurt in a hit-and-run crash, Abby doesnt dwell on the past. Instead, after months of up and downs and several stays in hospital, shes looking forward to what she hopes will be the next step in her sons recovery a stem cell treatment.

Tristan is starting to get back, so now its just a hope that he stays healthy and keeps going and that the stem cells kind of help push things along, she said.

Tristan, a Sir Wilfrid Laurier secondary school student, was injured on July 21, 2019, when he and a friend were riding their bikes on Exeter Road near Wonderland Road and he was struck by a vehicle.

Tristan, then 17, suffered serious brain damage as a result of the collision, which kept him on a respirator for 44 days and in hospital for more than three months. Other injuries included a compound fracture to his left leg, two bruised lungs, damage to his jaw. The damage kept him in a coma for weeks.

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The driver of the car that hit him stopped momentarily and then took off.A witness followed the vehicle and detained a fleeing passenger.

Police found the vehicle in a nearby parking lot, but the driver had fled. Six months later, London police charged Jesse Aron Bleck, then 26, with failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing bodily harm and two counts of driving while prohibited. Pretrial in the case is slated to begin early next year.

As with many of his treatments, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed Tristan receiving the stem cell treatment, which would be administered in Michigan.

Besides his own condition Tristan was recently diagnosed with post-traumatic Parkinsons disease and spent several days in hospital both Abby and Tristan were waiting to get their two shots of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Now, their hopes are set on the U.S. easing some of its restrictions to make the trip easier. American officials announced on Wednesday they are extending its land border restrictions until Aug. 21.

Im hoping that if everything works out, well get in there in August, Abby said.

Money for the treatment was raised earlier this year thanks to the support of Brian Vollmer, vocalist and founding member of the rock band Helix. He organized a telethon-type event, raising $17,000.

Though Tristan remains bedridden, he still shows signs of the outgoing young man he was before his injuries, Abby said.

I brought up his guitar the other day, and Im like, Oh, remember this guitar? and he was strumming it, she said.

The long hospital stays between December and March, they really, like, put him back in his recovery, but hes standing again and hes sitting and hes much more alert.

jjuha@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JuhaatLFPress

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A mother's love: Two years after devastating crash, Abby Roby has hope - London Free Press (Blogs)

Roswell Park Team Shows Dendritic-Cell Vaccines Can Be Paired With Standard Therapy for Breast Cancer – Newswise

Newswise BUFFALO, N.Y. A research team led by Fumito Ito, MD, PhD, FACS, of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center reports new data on the promise of combining standard treatment for breast cancer with a particular form of cancer immmunotherapy dendritic-cell (DC) treatment vaccines. This study, published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, is the first to demonstrate that in situ dendritic-cell vaccines can improve the effectiveness of radiation therapy for some aggressive and treatment-resistant forms of breast cancer.

Although immunotherapy with primary conventional dendritic cells is a promising approach, obtaining a sufficient number of circulating conventional dendritic cells has proved difficult, says Dr. Ito, who is Associate Professor of Surgical Oncology at Roswell Park. Use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has been proposed to overcome that limitation, but the feasibility of this approach had not previously been demonstrated.

The teams results show that intratumoral administration of iPSC-DCs significantly enhanced antitumor efficacy of local irradiation, which is commonly incorporated into treatment plans for patients with breast cancer.To better understand the potential of this approach, Dr. Ito and colleagues conducted laboratory studies to assess the antitumor efficacy of intratumoral injection of iPSC-DCs, or dendritic cells derived from iPSCs, and radiotherapy in models of triple-negative breast cancer that have shown resistance to anti-PD-L1 checkpoint inhibition immunotherapy.

The researchers demonstrate that radiation therapy increased the trafficking of intratumorally injected iPSC-DCs to the tumor-draining lymph nodes and augmented the activation of tumor-specific T cells. Their work shows that this multimodal intralesional therapy can control growth of distant tumors and render some breast cancers responsive to anti-PD-L1 therapy

While our work to develop this strategy is at an early stage and will need to be studied further, we show that these two approaches, radiotherapy and intratumoral iPSC-DC administration, can work synergistically to control not only local tumor growth but also distant tumors. And we saw evidence of systemic tumor-specific immunological memory, suggesting a potential for long-term tumor control, says Dr. Ito.

This study sheds light on the antitumor efficacy of in situ administration of iPSC-DCs when integrated with radiotherapy against poorly immunogenic tumors. These findings align with another study from Dr. Ito and his team, recently published in Nature Communications, that showed potent systemic antitumor immunity caused by combinational multimodal intralesional therapy.

Currently, efficacy of immunotherapy against breast cancer is limited, adds Dr. Ito. Our hope is to improve clinical outcomes for patients with advanced unresectable and metastatic breast cancer.

This work, In situ delivery of iPSC-derived dendritic cells with local radiotherapy generates systemic antitumor immunity and potentiates PD-L1 blockade in preclinical poorly immunogenic tumor models, was supported by several grants from the National Cancer Institute (project numbers P30CA016056, K08CA197966, and R50CA211108), as well as the Melanoma Research Alliance, Sarcoma Foundation of America and Uehara Memorial Foundation.

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For an online version of this release, please visit: https://www.roswellpark.org/newsroom/202107-roswell-park-team-shows-dendritic-cell-vaccines-can-be-paired-standard-therapy

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancers grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. Learn more at http://www.roswellpark.org, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or [emailprotected].

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Roswell Park Team Shows Dendritic-Cell Vaccines Can Be Paired With Standard Therapy for Breast Cancer - Newswise

Introducing the 3D bioprinted neural tissues with the potential to ‘cure’ human paralysis – 3D Printing Industry

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of Science and Technology of China have devised a novel bioprinting-based method of curing previously untreatable spinal cord injuries.

Using a custom bio-ink, the Chinese team have managed to 3D bioprint neural stem cell-loaded tissues capable of carrying instructions via impulses from the brain, much like those seen in living organisms. Once implanted into disabled rats, the scaffolds have shown the ability to restore movement in paralyzed limbs, and the scientists now believe their approach could find human applications in future.

There is no known effective cure for spinal cord injury, Zhijun Zhang, a nanobiomedical engineer at the Chinese Academy of Sciences told the Scientist. The 3D bioprinting strategy weve developed, may represent a general and versatile strategy for rapid and precise engineering of the central nervous system (CNS), and other neuronal tissues for regenerative medicine.

The SCI injury conundrum

A Spinal Cord Injury or SCI is a blanket term used to describe any damage caused to the bundle of cells and nerves that send signals to and from the brain along the human spinal cord. While the damage itself can be caused either by direct injury, or from bruising to the surrounding vertebrae, the result is often the same: a partial or complete loss of sensory and locomotor function below the affected area.

While theres no current known cure for SCI, a number of promising cell-based therapies are now being developed, with the regeneration of functional neurons seen as central to their future success. In effect, such approaches involve re-establishing links between neurons throughout the injured area in order to restore nerve functionality, but repairing damaged cells continues to be problematic.

Where neural stem cells have previously been implanted into SCI sites, theyve also shown poor viability and uncontrolled differentiation, leading to low therapeutic efficacy. More recent efforts have seen scientists bioprint cell-loaded scaffolds, capable of creating a suitable microenvironment in which neurons can flourish, yet this has raised further issues around printability and initiating cellular interaction.

To get around these problems, the Chinese researchers have now developed a novel bio-ink that gels together at body temperature to prevent neurons from differentiating into cells that dont produce electrical impulses, and can be 3D bioprinted into scaffolds that not only mimic the white matter appearance of the spine, but encourage cell-to-cell interactions.

A paralysis cure in-action

To begin with, Zhang and his team formulated their bio-ink from natural chitosan sugars, as well as a mixture of hyaluronic acids and matrigel, before combining them with rat neural stem cells. The scientists then used a BioScaffolder 3D bioprinter to deposit the resulting concoction into cell-laden scaffolds, which were later stored in culture plates for further testing.

Prior to their implantation, the teams different samples were incubated for three, five and seven days respectively, during which they proliferated and formed connections. Interestingly though, the researchers found that the higher the concentration of hyaluronic acid, the lower levels of interaction they observed, showing that their bio-ink can be tweaked to achieve desired tissue characteristics.

When injected into paraplegic lab rats, the scaffolds exhibited a cell viability of 95% while promoting neuron regeneration to the point that they enabled the rats to regain control over their hind legs. Over a 12-week observation period, the treated animals also showed a revived ability to move their hips, knees and ankles without support, and kick pressure sensors with markedly enhanced muscle strength.

As a result, the scientists have concluded that their approach offers a versatile and powerful platform for building precisely-controlled complex neural tissues with potential human applications, although they concede that more precise regulation of cell differentiation will be needed to achieve this, in addition to further testing on more clinically-relevant injury models.

Overall, this study clearly demonstrated for the first time the feasibility of the 3D bioprinted neural stem cell-laden scaffolds for SCI repair in-vivo, concluded the team in their paper, which, we expect, may move toward clinical applications in the neural tissue engineering, such as SCI and other regenerative medicine fields in the near future.

3D bioprinting in CNS treatments

Thanks to constant advances in flexible electronics and 3D bioprinting technologies, its now becoming increasingly possible to produce neural implants, with the potential to treat complex CNS injuries. Last year, a project started at TU Dresden led to the creation of 3D printed neural implants, capable of linking the human brain to computers as a means of treating neurological conditions such as paralysis.

In a similar study, engineering firm Renishaw has worked with pharmaceuticals expert Herantis Pharma to assess the performance of its 3D printed neuroinfuse drug delivery device. Designed to deliver intermittent infusions into the parenchyma, an organs functional tissue, the platform could be used as a future treatment for Parkinsons disease.

With regards to treating spinal injuries specifically, researchers at the University of California San Diego have also managed to repair spinal cord injuries in rats. By implanting 3D printed two-millimeter-wide grafts into test subjects, the team have been able to facilitate neural stem cell growth, restore nerve connections and ultimately help recover limb functionality in rodent test subjects.

The researchers findings are detailed in their paper titled 3D bioprinted neural tissue constructs for spinal cord injury repair. The study was co-authored by Xiaoyun Liu, Mingming Hao, Zhongjin Chen, Ting Zhang, Jie Huang, Jianwu Dai and Zhijun Zhang.

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Featured image shows the researchers 3D bioprinted scaffolds after 7 and 21 days culturing. Images via the Biomaterials journal.

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Introducing the 3D bioprinted neural tissues with the potential to 'cure' human paralysis - 3D Printing Industry

Investing in stem cells, the building blocks of the body – MoneyWeek

Imagine being able to reverse blindness, cure multiple sclerosis (MS), or rebuild your heart muscles after a heart attack. For the past few decades, research into stem cells, the building blocks of tissues and organs, has raised the prospect of medical advances of this kind yet it has produced relatively few approved treatments. But that could be about to change, says Robin Ali, professor of human molecular genetics of Kings College London. Just as gene therapy went from being a fantasy with little practical value to becoming a major area of treatment, stem cells are within a few years of reaching the medical mainstream. Whats more, developments in synthetic biology, the process of engineering and re-engineering cells, could make stem cells even more effective.

Stem cells are essentially the bodys raw material: basic cells from which all other cells with particular functions are generated. They are found in various organs and tissues, including the brain, blood, bone marrow and skin. The primary promise of adult stem cells lies in regenerative medicine, says Professor Ali.

Stem cells go through several rounds of division in order to produce specialist cells; a blood stem cell can be used to produce blood cells and skin stem cells can be used to produce skin cells. So in theory you can take adult stem cells from one person and transplant them into another person in order to promote the growth of new cells and tissue.

In practice, however, things have proved more complicated, since the number of stem cells in a persons body is relatively limited and they are hard to access. Scientists were also previously restricted by the fact that adult stem cells could only produce one specific type of cell (so blood stem cells couldnt produce skin cells, for instance).

In their quest for a universal stem cell, some scientists initially focused on stem cells from human embryos, but that remains a controversial method, not only because harvesting stem cells involves destroying the embryo, but also because there is a much higher risk of rejection of embryonic stem cells by the recipients immune system.

The good news is that in 2006 Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University and his team discovered a technique for creating what they call induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). The research, for which they won a Nobel Prize in 2012, showed that you can rewind adult stem cells development process so that they became embryo-like stem cells. These cells can then be repurposed into any type of stem cells. So you could turn skin stem cells into iPSCs, which could in turn be turned into blood stem cells.

This major breakthrough has two main benefits. Firstly, because iPSCs are derived from adults, they dont come with the ethical problems associated with embryonic stem cells. Whats more, the risk of the body rejecting the cells is much lower as they come from another adult or are produced by the patient. In recent years scientists have refined this technique to the extent that we now have a recipe for making all types of cells, as well as a growing ability to multiply the number of stem cells, says Professor Ali.

Having the blueprint for manufacturing stem cells isnt quite enough on its own and several barriers remain, admits Professor Ali. For example, we still need to be able to manufacture large numbers of stem cells at a reasonable cost. Ensuring that the stem cells, once they are in the recipient, carry out their function of making new cells and tissue remains a work in progress. Finally, regulators are currently taking a hard line towards the technology, insisting on exhaustive testing and slowing research down.

The good news, Professor Ali believes, is that all these problems are not insurmountable as scientists get better at re-engineering adult cells (a process known as synthetic biology). The costs of manufacturing large numbers of stem cells are falling and this can only speed up as more companies invest in the area. There are also a finite number of different human antigens (the parts of the immune system that lead a body to reject a cell), so it should be possible to produce a bank of iPSC cells for the most popular antigen types.

While the attitude of regulators is harder to predict, Professor Ali is confident that it needs only one major breakthrough for the entire sector to secure a large amount of research from the top drug and biotech firms. Indeed, he believes that effective applications are likely in the next few years in areas where there are already established transplant procedures, such as blood transfusion, cartilage and corneas. The breakthrough may come in ophthalmology (the treatment of eye disorders) as you only need to stimulate the development of a relatively small number of cells to restore someones eyesight.

In addition to helping the body repair its own tissues and organs by creating new cells, adult stem cells can also indirectly aid regeneration by delivering other molecules and proteins to parts of the body where they are needed, says Ralph Kern, president and chief medical officer of biotechnology company BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics.

For example, BrainStorm has developed NurOwn, a cellular technology using peoples own cells to deliver neurotrophic factors (NTFs), proteins that can promote the repair of tissue in the nervous system. NurOwn works by modifying so-called Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from a persons bone marrow. The re-transplanted mesenchymal stem cells can then deliver higher quantities of NTFs and other repair molecules.

At present BrainStorm is using its stem-cell therapy to focus on diseases of the brain and nervous system, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrigs disease), MS and Huntingtons disease. The data from a recent final-stage trial suggests that the treatment may be able to halt the progression of ALS in those who have the early stage of the disease. Phase-two trial (the second of three stages of clinical trials) of the technique in MS patients also showed that those who underwent the treatment experienced an improvement in the functioning of their body.

Kern notes that MSCs are a particularly promising area of research. They are considered relatively safe, with few side effects, and can be frozen, which improves efficiency and drastically cuts down the amount of bone marrow that needs to be extracted from each patient.

Because the manufacture of MSC cells has become so efficient, NurOwn can be used to get years of therapy in one blood draw. Whats more, the cells can be reintroduced into patients bodies via a simple lumbar puncture into the spine, which can be done as an outpatient procedure, with no need for an overnight stay in hospital.

Kern emphasises that the rapid progress in our ability to modify cells is opening up new opportunities for using stem cells as a molecular delivery platform. Through taking advantage of the latest advances in the science of cellular therapies, BrainStorm is developing a technique to vary the molecules that its stem cells deliver so they can be more closely targeted to the particular condition being treated. BrainStorm is also trying to use smaller fragments of the modified cells, known as exosomes, in the hope that these can be more easily delivered and absorbed by the body and further improve its ability to avoid immune-system reactions to unrelated donors. One of BrainStorms most interesting projects is to use exosomes to repair the long-term lung damage from Covid-19, a particular problem for those with long Covid-19. Early preclinical trials show that modified exosomes delivered into the lungs of animals led to remarkable improvements in their condition. This included increasing the lungs oxygen capacity, reducing inflammation, and decreasing clotting.

Overall, while Kern admits that you cant say that stem cells are a cure for every condition, there is a lot of evidence that in many specific cases they have the potential to be the best option, with fewer side effects. With Americas Food and Drug Administration recently deciding to approve Biogens Alzheimers drug, Kern thinks that they have become much more open to approving products in diseases that are currently considered untreatable. As a result, he thinks that a significant number of adult stem-cell treatments will be approved within the next five to ten years.

Adult stem cells and synthetic biology arent just useful in treatments, says Dr Mark Kotter, CEO and founder of Bit Bio, a company spun out of Cambridge University. They are also set to revolutionise drug discovery. At present, companies start out by testing large numbers of different drug combinations in animals, before finding one that seems to be most effective. They then start a process of clinical trials with humans to test whether the drug is safe, followed by an analysis to see whether it has any effects.

Not only is this process extremely lengthy, but it is also inefficient, because human and animal biology, while similar in many respects, can differ greatly for many conditions. Many drugs that seem promising in animals end up being rejected when they are used on humans. This leads to a high failure rate. Indeed, when you take the failures into account, it has been estimated that it may cost as much to around $2bn to develop the typical drug.

As a result, pharma companies are now realising that you have to insert the human element at a pre-clinical stage by at least using human tissues, says Kotter. The problem is that until recently such tissues were scarce, since they were only available from biopsies or surgery. However, by using synthetic biology to transform adult stem cells from the skin or other parts of the body into other types of stem cells, researchers can potentially grow their own cells, or even whole tissues, in the laboratory, allowing them to integrate the human element at a much earlier stage.

Kotter has direct experience of this himself. He originally spent several decades studying the brain. However, because he had to rely on animal tissue for much of his research he became frustrated that he was turning into a rat doctor.

And when it came to the brain, the differences between human and rat biology were particularly stark. In fact, some human conditions, such as Alzheimers, dont even naturally appear in rodents, so researchers typically use mice and rats engineered to develop something that looks like Alzheimers. But even this isnt a completely accurate representation of what happens in humans.

As a result of his frustration, Kotter sought a way to create human tissues. It initially took six months. However, his company, Bit Bio, managed to cut costs and greatly accelerate the process. The companys technology now allows it to grow tissues in the laboratory in a matter of days, on an industrial scale. Whats more, the tissues can also be designed not just for particular conditions, such as dementia and Huntingdons disease, but also for particular sub-types of diseases.

Kotter and Bit Bio are currently working with Charles River Laboratories, a global company that has been involved in around 80% of drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration over the last three years, to commercialise this product. They have already attracted interest from some of the ten largest drug companies in the world, who believe that it will not only reduce the chances of failure, but also speed up development. Early estimates suggest that the process could double the chance of a successful trial, effectively cutting the cost of each approved drug by around 50% from $2bn to just $1bn. This in turn could increase the number of successful drugs on the market.

Two years ago my colleague Dr Mike Tubbs tipped Fate Therapeutics (Nasdaq: FATE). Since then, the share price has soared by 280%, thanks to growing interest from other drug companies (such as Janssen Biotech and ONO Pharmaceutical) in its cancer treatments involving genetically modified iPSCs.

Fate has no fewer than seven iPSC-derived treatments undergoing trials, with several more in the pre-clinical stage. While it is still losing money, it has over $790m cash on hand, which should be more than enough to support it while it develops its drugs.

As mentioned in the main story, the American-Israeli biotechnology company BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics (Nasdaq: BCLI) is developing treatments that aim to use stem cells as a delivery mechanism for proteins. While the phase-three trial (the final stage of clinical trials) of its proprietary NurOwn system for treatment of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrigs disease) did not fully succeed, promising results for those in the early stages of the disease mean that the company is thinking about running a new trial aimed at those patients. It also has an ongoing phase-two trial for those with MS, a phase-one trial in Alzheimers patients, as well as various preclinical programmes aimed at Parkinsons, Huntingtons, autistic spectrum disorder and peripheral nerve injury. Like Fate Therapeutics, BrainStorm is currently unprofitable.

Australian biotechnology company Mesoblast (Nasdaq: MESO) takes mesenchymal stem cells from the patient and modifies them so that they can absorb proteins that promote tissue repair and regeneration. At present Mesoblast is working with larger drug and biotech companies, including Novartis, to develop this technique for conditions ranging from heart disease to Covid-19. Several of these projects are close to being completed.

While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) controversially rejected Mesoblasts treatment remestemcel-L for use in children who have suffered from reactions to bone-marrow transplants against the advice of the Food and Drug Administrations own advisory committee the firm is confident that the FDA will eventually change its mind.

One stem-cell company that has already reached profitability is Vericel (Nasdaq: VCEL). Vericels flagship MACI products use adult stem cells taken from the patient to grow replacement cartilage, which can then be re-transplanted into the patient, speeding up their recovery from knee injuries. It has also developed a skin replacement based on skin stem cells.

While earnings remain relatively small, Vericel expects profitability to soar fivefold over the next year alone as the company starts to benefit from economies of scale and runs further trials to expand the range of patients who can benefit.

British micro-cap biotech ReNeuron (Aim: RENE) is developing adult stem-cell treatments for several conditions. It is currently carrying out clinical trials for patients with retinal degeneration and those recovering from the effects of having a stroke. ReNeuron has also developed its own induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) platform for research purposes and is seeking collaborations with other drug and biotech companies.

Like other small biotech firms in this area, it is not making any money, so it is an extremely risky investment although the rewards could be huge if any of its treatments show positive results from their clinical trials.

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Investing in stem cells, the building blocks of the body - MoneyWeek