Adaptimmune and GSK partner in first EU synovial sarcoma T-cell therapy trial

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Researchers at University College London’s Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (UCL ECMC) have partnered with Adaptimmune and GSK to embark on the first large-scale clinical trial in Europe targeting T-cell therapy in synovial sarcoma.

University College London Hospitals (UCLH) is confirmed as the first site in this new field of ‘immuno-oncology’ study. Adaptimmune has signed a £350million deal with GSK to provide genetically engineered T-cell technology, and will partner with the trial which will involve 100 cancer patients.

The study at UCLH will take cancer patients from across Europe and USA for whom conventional therapies have failed, and use T-cell therapy to target their cancer cells. Scientists believe that the patient’s T-cells (white blood cells) may be a critical component of the immune system which can be manipulated to fight their own cancer.

This type of work has already been successfully tested in blood cancers, however applying it to cancer cells embedded deep within solid tumours is extremely challenging. There is currently only one drug available on the market to treat synovial sarcoma.

The response of the current drug is low compared to Adaptimmune’s engineered T-cells. An initial small-scale engineered T-cells trial on a dozen patients demonstrated a 50% response rate compared to 4% in the the drug trial of 250 patients. 

It is hoped that the T-cell therapy trial will be completed in time to register Adaptimmune’s T-cell therapy for sarcoma by the end of the decade.