Exuberance Over Immunotherapy Has Dimmed Amid Recent Setbacks
The field was blazing hot a year ago, but some of that optimism has faded as companies and scientists trying to use immunotherapy have been blocked by daunting challenges.
Race To Market Custom Cancer Therapies Hits Roadblocks
The idea is tantalizing: Reengineer a patient’s own immune cells to attack the cancer that’s killing her. Scientists have proven it can be done, curing patients of otherwise terminal blood cancers. But faith in this approach, dubbed CAR-T immunotherapy, has been shaken in recent months. First, Juno Therapeutics, a leader in the field, announced that four patients in its clinical trials had died. Then, just this week, Novartis — one of the prime contenders in the race to commercialize CAR-T therapy — shuttered its cell and gene therapy unit and announced plans to lay off 120 employees. (Keshavan, 9/2)
The Washington Post:
For A 6-Year-Old With Cancer, A Future Staked On Medicine’s Hottest Field
Bald but beaming, 5-year-old Eden Oyelola yanked the long rope to ring the “victory bell” at Children’s National Medical Center last September. She was finally done with her treatment for brain cancer — surgery followed by months of radiation and chemotherapy that made her terribly ill. At a “bell party” at her home in Upper Marlboro, Md., later that week, she gobbled down ice cream with friends and rode a pony around the back yard. Her parents exhaled in relief. “We thought she was in the clear,” her father said. The relief was short-lived. (McGinley, 9/1)