Improving the efficacy of CD19-directed CAR-T therapy for pediatric B-ALL patients

Acute B-cell lymphocytic leukemia (B-ALL) is the most prevalent form of pediatric cancer. Treatment of the disease predominantly consists of chemotherapy. Autologous chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) therapy is a recently approved new type of treatment for B-ALL patients for whom the disease has come back after remission and/or chemotherapy does not work. For CAR-T therapy, immune cells are isolated from the blood of the patient. These immune cells are then genetically modified in the lab to teach them to recognize cancer cells. When these cells are given back to the patient, they effectively eliminate the cancer cells.

Despite the good results that have already been obtained with this therapy, the disease has eventually come back in 50% of patients 12 months after treatment. Our research focusses on creating a better understanding of why this happens. We do this by combining clinical parameters with state of the art proteomics and molecular technologies. By doing this, we aim to find new biomarkers that can be predictive for treatment response which will help us to better treat the right patient with the right therapy. Additionally, we aim to leverage the gained insights to further improve treatment efficacy.

Noël Dautzenberg