Exciting Clinical Results With Novartis' Leukemia Immune Therapy

The regimen, based on reprogramming the patient's immune T cells to attack the cancer cells, led to the disappearance of cancer in 90 percent of patients, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A new leukemia immune treatment being developed by Novartis AG (NOVN) led to the disappearance of cancer in 90 percent of patients, a study showed.

The therapy, a process that involved taking a patient’s T cells and reprogramming them to hunt cancer cells, resulted in complete remission of 27 of 30 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a deadly pediatric cancer, according to the study published today by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The early-stage trial of CTL019 engineered cells conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania indicates the potential of the complicated treatment, which analysts have estimated may generate $10 billion a year if its uses expand beyond leukemia. The therapy can provoke serious side affects, however, and eight of the 30 patients required intensive care for severe cytokine-release syndrome.

“We are excited by these results, which indicated how effective CTL019 may be in fighting ALL, a leading cause of childhood cancer deaths,” said lead investigator Stephan Grupp, a professor at the university.

Report on Bloomberg: http://bloom.bg/1CpM031

Link to the article in NEJM: http://bit.ly/1syxUeI