Oncology: New Developments for CAR-T from the IMMUNO Project

Bambino Gesù coordinated the network for the development of new gene therapies which includes the Regina Elena National Cancer Institute and 3 biotechnological companies

Three new gene therapies and a new mouse model for the generation of fully human monoclonal antibodies. These are the results of the 4 projects promoted by “IMMUNO”, the research and development network of CAR-T cells for application in mainly oncohematology. The network is made up of the Regina Elena National Cancer Institute (IRE), three biotechnological companies (Menarini Biotech, Takis and Plaisantx) and is coordinated by Professor Franco Locatelli, director of the Department of Oncology, Cell Therapies, Gene Therapies and Hemopoietic Transplantation of the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital. The results of the research of the IMMUNO network, co financed by Lazio Innova Spa and the European Union, were presented yesterday afternoon in the Sala Tevere of the Lazio Region.

The 4 Projects of “IMMUNO”

The first project, CARSA (chimeric antigen receptor for sarcoma) involved the development of gene therapy prototypes based on the generation of genetically modified T cells for the treatment of patients with sarcoma.

The second study, GEMMA (GEneration of novel CAR T and BiTE to convert the TuMor Microenvironment), led to the development of a CAR-T therapy to eliminate immunosuppressive components in the tumour microenvironment that limit T lymphocyte activity in solid pulmonary tumors.

The third project, HuMAD (Humanized Mouse for Antibody Discovery), is dedicated to the study of a new mouse model for the generation of fully human monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer patients. Currently, in fact, the monoclonal antibodies produced through mouse models can be recognized as foreign by the patient’s immune system and can therefore be subject to rejection.

The last study, TraZimAb, is the project whereby researchers have developed a new CAR-T product for the treatment of aspergillosis, a rare respiratory tract infection caused by inhaling spores of the filamentous fungus Aspergilluse, but which has an extreme relevance in the context of immunosuppressed patients, such as for example transplant patients.

We are very satisfied with how the academic and industrial sectors have collaborated thanks to this loan. – explains Biagio De Angelis, researcher of the gene Therapy research unit for tumors of Bambino Gesù – The prototypes generated relating to personalized and advanced therapies have now reached such solidity and robustness as to bode well for subsequent investments in the context of their industrial exploitation”.

Immunotherapy is changing cancer therapy. – underlines Gennaro Ciliberto, Scientific Director of Regina Elena – In this context, the public-private partnership of the IMMUNO project has shown that it can synergistically develop very promising new weapons which, following further experimentation, will be able to make their way into clinical trials”.

A project of such scientific and translational value – highlights Paola Nisticò, researcher in charge of the IRE Immunology and Tumor Immunotherapy Unit and coordinator of the “GEMMA project” – was fueled by great synergies between the partners and allowed young researchers to acquire high skills in the field of immunotherapy”.

“The dream of Bambino Gesù Hospital,
the dream of the Pope, is to help bring
science and humanity to all children with
very severe diseases who need to be treated”
Pope Francis