An early clinical trial of a CAR T-cell therapy for gastrointestinal cancers has shown promising results, the Guardian reports.
It notes that while CAR T-cell therapies have been used successfully to treat blood cancers, applying the approach to target solid tumors has been more difficult. A team at Peking University Cancer Hospital and Institute has now developed CAR T-cells that target Claudin18.2 (CLDN18.2), a protein that is expressed by many cancers but particularly by gastrointestinal tumors. As they report in Nature Medicine, the team treated 37 individuals with CLDN18.2-positive digestive system cancers with varying doses of CLDN18.2-targeted CAR T-cells in a phase 1 clinical trial.
In this initial study, the researchers report an overall response rate of nearly 49 percent and disease control rate of 73 percent. Most patients, though, experienced some side effects.
Still, Waseem Qasim from Great Ormond Street Hospital tells the Guardian that these preliminary results are promising. Charles Swanton from Cancer Research UK adds there that "[t]his is encouraging, as people with digestive cancers have very few treatment options."