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German Researchers Net €2.6M Grant to Study Stem-Like CAR T-Cell Therapy

NEW YORK – The Leibniz Institute for Immunotherapy in Regensburg, Germany, said Tuesday that its researchers have received a €2.6 million ($2.8 million) grant to study a modified CAR T-cell therapy in advanced lymphoma patients. 

The researchers, Luca Gattinoni and Matthias Edinger, will use the grant from the nonprofit German Cancer Aid to study their CAR T-cell therapy within a six-year clinical trial at University Hospital Regensburg and the Leibniz Institute for Immunotherapy. 

Gattinoni and Edinger are studying an enhanced autologous CAR T-cell therapy, which targets two undisclosed molecules on the surface of patients' lymphoma cells. They are also using a specific kind of T cell — T memory stem cells — as the product's starting material. 

These two enhancements, the researchers believe, will help get around target antigen loss and T-cell exhaustion, which are two barriers that have limited CAR T-cell therapy's long-term efficacy. 

"This study marks the culmination of 15 years of research since we initially demonstrated the superior efficacy of T memory stem cells in preclinical models of T-cell therapy," Gattinoni said in a statement. "It's exciting to see how far we have come, from identifying these stem-like T cells in humans to developing them in larger quantities with the desired anti-tumor specificities." 

German biotech Miltenyi Biotec will supply the CAR construct that targets the two different molecules on lymphoma cells.