Off-the-shelf CAR-T therapy clinical trials to start in Australia next year

CANCER patients would have access to off-the-shelf immunotherapies to reprogram their immune system to fight tumours at a fraction of the current price, as part of a world-first plan to turn these experimental treatments into ready-made products.

A Melbourne consortium of leading stem cell scientists, backed by a $3 million Federal Government grant and almost $10 million from private backers, is using a rare type of cell from healthy donors to turn into cancer-fighting immune cells (CAR-T cells).

The partnership between Melbourne biotech company Cartherics, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Mesoblast and Cell Therapies, plan to start testing their treatments in patients with relapsed ovarian and gastric cancers from next year.

This is great news for seriously ill Australian cancer patients who currently need to travel to the US and spend about $500,000 to access potentially life-saving CAR-T therapy.

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