Novartis Shows Commitment to CAR T Cell Strategy

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In August of last year, it was reported that Novaris was integrating its separate gene and cell therapy unit back into the company. Some thought it showed a retraction of a commitment to the division’s CAR T Cell work, but the Swiss company says it is aggressively pursuing steps forward. Vas Narasimhan, MD and global head of drug development and CMO at Novartis said that the inclusion back into the main corporate structure was due to its significant potential.

According to a recent article in Fierce Biotech, “its leading CAR-T candidate, CTL019 (tisagenlecleucel), now has two FDA breakthrough tags in two blood cancers, and was given a priority review for the med by the agency at the end of March.”

We had incubated the technology which came out of [its 2012 CAR-T deal]with Penn as a dedicated unit, and that was something that made sense: If you had immediately put that into the larger infrastructure of Novartis, it would have got lost, especially in the early stages when it was risky and it was unclear if this would be tractable,” he said.

 Novartis and Kite Pharma are now in a heated first-to-market race for this exciting therapy. Narasimhan says that the first two diseases of focus will be acute lymphoblasic leukemia (ALL) in pediatric and young adult patients and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma as well as a combined study in Europe.
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Jenny A

Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can help accelerate a cure by weighing in and participating in clinical trials. Founder of Myeloma Crowd, Myeloma Crowd Radio and the CrowdCare Foundation.

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