April 23, 2020

Training the workforce of the future in CAR T-cell therapy

By Susan Buckles

Mayo Clinic is equipping the next generation of physician-scientists with knowledge to bring chimeric antigenic receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy to more patients. One of the first medical centers to offer CAR T, Mayo Clinic is sharing its unique knowledge of this regenerative immunotherapy in a first-of-its kind graduate mini course offered through the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. This educational endeavor is integral to a growing emphasis on regenerative medicine intense curricula at Mayo Clinic.

Saad Kenderian, M.B., Ch.B.

“This is an emerging field that is rapidly changing. To keep up with the latest innovations, comprehensive training is needed for basic scientists, biomedical engineers, translational investigators and clinician investigators to ensure that experts from these distinct disciplines are able to work together to harness new discoveries and effectively bring them to the clinic in an efficient and timely manner,” says Saad Kenderian, M.B, Ch.B., who teaches the course.

CAR T-cell therapy is a regenerative treatment that unleashes the body’s immune system to attack cancer, especially in B-cell leukemias and lymphomas.

With support from the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Department of Immunology, the mini course “Regenerative T-Cell Immunology in the Treatment of Cancer” is designed to inspire scientists, medical students, clinicians, residents and fellows to advance the discovery, translation and application of CAR T-cell therapy. 

The topics include:

  • Basics of tumor immunology
  • Adoptive cell therapy
  • Laboratory skills
  • How to write grants to obtain research funding
  • Overview of the regulatory environment
  • Workshops on flow cytometry, tumor models and cGMP CAR T-cell generation

“Clinical translation requires expertise in translational science, Food and Drug Administration regulation and good manufacturing practices. Successful delivery incorporates providers in multiple medical specialties, including oncology, critical care, neurology and laboratory medicine,” says Dr. Kenderian.

Expanding CAR T-cell therapy at Mayo Clinic

The course is offered  as Mayo Clinic division of Hematology/Medical Oncology, the Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Cancer Center are working together to develop and expand new CAR T and other cancer immunotherapies. Mayo Clinic in Florida has hired a new person to direct the cancer immunotherapies program.

Scientists at Mayo Clinic are preparing to biomanufacture the CAR T-cells in house. Currently CAR T-cells are sent to an outside lab where they are genetically modified with the power to go on search and destroy missions to kill cancer. These synthetic cells act like a living drug that taps the body’s defense system to fight disease.

“Manufacturing CAR T-cells right at Mayo Clinic will make them more accessible, less expensive and more individualized to the patient. It can be done in a week instead of the three to four weeks it takes at an outside lab. That’s especially important for patients with aggressive cancers who need immediate treatment to stop the progression of their disease,” says Dr. Kenderian.

The CAR T mini course will be held online May 5-7 and is open to scientists, graduate students, medical students, clinicians, residents and fellows. There are special tracks for pharmacists, nurses and physician assistants. Doctoral students can earn three credits from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and clinicians can earn continuing medical education credits.

The course is open to medical providers outside of Mayo Clinic.The course was first introduced in 2017, and surveys showed it increased interest and skills among the students. Read an analysis of the course here. Those interested in attending must have Dr. Kenderian sign a late registration form and email that form to comregistrar@mayo.edu

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Tags: #Biomanufacturing, #CAR T-cell therapy, #Dr. Saad Kenderian, #Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine, Biomanufacturing, Cancer, Education

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