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Unlocking the Promise of Cell Therapies for Solid Tumors: Opportunities and Challenges

By Joseph Feingold, PhD, Partner, Boston; Head of Cell & Gene Therapy Center of Excellence and Portfolio, Licensing & Development Practice Lead; Jaideep V. Thottassery, PhD, Senior Director, New York; Reena Khurana, MSc MPhil, Senior Director, Delhi

January 06, 2023
| Insight

Our cell and gene therapy experts offer a deep analysis on the current opportunities and challenges of cell therapies for solid tumors.

Key Takeaways

  • Out of ~800 cell therapies in clinical development for solid tumors, nearly ¼ are autologous CAR-Ts being developed by over 100 different industry and academic groups.
  • Given experience to date with autologous CAR-Ts in heme malignancies, and their antigen specificity, these are the best near-term bets for solid tumors.
  • However, CAR-Ts are not likely to work for the vast majority of cancer patients, unless we find ways to enhance their efficacy by enabling recognition of multiple antigens, while simultaneously improving their safety.

Download the Whitepaper

Introduction

The landscape of cell therapies for solid tumors has grown exponentially in recent years with several hundred in development worldwide. However, unlike hematologic malignancies, where several cell therapies have gained FDA approval, very few of the pipeline assets for solid tumors have reached pivotal trials, and those that have are for rare cancers. Proof-of-principle has yet to be established for cell therapies for more common epithelial cancers. Iterative studies are needed to continue to improve the potency and efficacy of cell therapies for such cancers, with the goal of demonstrating durable remissions in larger proportions of patients. This is easier said than done, as solid tumors present unique challenges to cell therapy, ranging from poor trafficking and infiltration and inadequate antigen recognition to lack of functional persistence. In this whitepaper we review the current state of solid tumor cell therapies and assess emerging approaches for expanding the target space with optimal antigens, combating resistance through multi-antigen targeting, and improving antigen recognition and signaling.

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