Daniel J. Powell, PhD
Phase I trial of folate receptor-alpha CAR T-cell therapy for solid cancer.
Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic cancer. However, women with evidence of immune cells in their ovarian cancer, specifically T cells, have an improved overall survival. This suggests that T cells control ovarian cancer growth.
Patient T cells can now be grown to large numbers outside of the body and then reinfused back into the same patient in a process referred to as adoptive T cell therapy. To allow these T cells to “see” the cancer cells, they are engineered outside of the body to express a tumor-sensor called a CAR. Patient T cells genetically engineered to express a CAR can recognize a cancer antigen, such as CD19. Transfer of these anti-CD19 CAR T cells back to terminally diseased patients results in cancer remission in ~90% of treated patients with certain forms of leukemia.
In order to bring this form of therapy to women with ovarian cancer, we propose to engineer patient T cells to recognize an antigen called folate receptor-alpha, which is expressed by up to 90% of ovarian cancers, and use them to treat women with recurrent ovarian cancer, a disease which kills more than 14,000 women each year, and for which there are no effective treatment options. These CAR T cells can effectively and comprehensibly kill human ovarian cancer cells in mice. The opportunity now exists to provide this form of cancer gene therapy for our patients. Here, we propose conducting a clinical trial to test whether these CAR T cells are safe and effective in women with recurrent ovarian cancer.
Related Researcher Story:
An optimistic doctor.
“In cancer research, we continue to invent and reinvent as part of the natural process.”