Harnessing the Power of the Immune System to Treat Cancer
Since the acquisition of Kite Pharma, Gilead has expanded its presence in oncology to become a leader in cell therapy, a new way of using a patient’s own immune system to fight certain cancers.
How Cell Therapy Works
Cell therapy is a cutting-edge approach that begins with collecting a patient’s T cells through a process called leukapheresis. These T cells are then isolated and genetically engineered to make them more effective at targeting certain cancer cells. The engineered cells replicate and once a sufficient number of cells are available, they are frozen, shipped to the cancer center and infused into the patient’s body where they recognize and attack cancer cells. This new approach has the potential to be particularly important for people with certain cancers who have not had success with other therapies.
CAR T Process
Kite is developing engineered cell therapies that target cancer by expressing either a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) or a T cell receptor (TCR). TCR therapy is an investigational type of immunotherapy, and the safety and efficacy of TCR therapy have not been established.
T cells, which are critical to the immune system’s ability to target cancer, sometimes fail to recognize and eliminate tumors. Engineered cell therapies are designed to respond to this problem by harnessing the power of a patient’s own immune system to more effectively target and attack cancer cells.
We believe that cell therapy has the potential to become an essential tool in treating certain cancers that have not responded to other therapies and are committed to improving it over the long term to benefit as many people as possible. We are advancing a diverse pipeline of cell therapies for a broad range of blood cancers, as well as solid tumors.
Together, Kite and Gilead have acquired or licensed additional technologies to support the development of next-generation cell therapies, with the goal of ultimately creating treatments that are safer and more effective, and that target a wider variety of cancers.
Gilead’s determination to transform cancer treatment builds on our success of driving innovation in the treatment of HIV, viral hepatitis and other diseases. We revolutionized HIV treatment by creating the world’s first once-daily, single tablet regimen and later changed the course of the hepatitis C epidemic with a new generation of therapies that offered unprecedented cure rates.
Achieving these milestones required continuous innovation to advance treatments and improve outcomes. Today we bring this same approach to our work in oncology. “We will constantly need to improve on our own therapies to remain at the forefront of cell therapy and address the unmet needs of patients,” said Alessandro Riva, executive vice president, Oncology Therapeutics & head of Cell Therapy. “Out-innovating ourselves is a hallmark of the company’s drug development, so we are up to the challenge.”