What do the CAR-T Patient Deaths Mean for the Future of the Field?

14/12/2016 - 7 minutes

Juno’s JCAR015 study came to a halt for the second time this year after two more patient deaths. But despite the bad news, hopes for CAR-T therapies remain high. 

Juno Therapeutics again came under scrutiny last month following deaths in its JCAR015 trial. Two patients died from neurotoxicity-triggered cerebral edema, the same condition that killed three others in this study in July. At the time, the FDA conducted a brief review and gave a green light for the trial to continue after only five days on clinical hold. But this time, it looks like it might be the end of the road for JCAR015.

The immuno-oncology community didn’t have long to reckon with the aftermath of the Juno deaths: barely a week later, a wave of good news came from Novartis, Kite and bluebird about their ongoing CAR-T trials. So, what does this mean for CAR-T? Can biotechs do anything to improve safety measures? Will we see FDA-approved CAR-Ts 2017?

What went wrong? 

At this point, it’s unclear what caused the deadly brain swelling.

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