Bringing cutting-edge treatment to Kiwis – a Vision to Cure

31 March 2021 -

Above image: CAR T-Cell trial team at the Malaghan Institute

There’s been a lot of news over the past year regarding a revolutionary new approach to fighting cancer called CAR T-cell therapy on trial at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research.

This option is cutting edge, and takes a patient’s immune cells (the T-cells) and re-directs them in the laboratory to identify and attack cancer cells. They then return the modified T-cells to the patient to start destroying the cancer cells.

A phase 1 safety trial called ENABLE was started at the end of 2019 for people with certain types of relapsed and refractory B cell non-Hodgkin Lymphoma who have exhausted other treatment options. Dr Robert Weinkove leads it as the Institute’s Clinical Director. He is also on LBC’s Medical and Scientific Committee.

LBC has a close relationship with the Malaghan Institute. Thanks to our donors’ support, we have assisted with funding to ensure that this trial is available for patients across New Zealand. The Institute is based in Wellington, so before the commencement of the trial, LBC provided travel grants for nursing staff from Wellington Hospital to receive intensive training in Australia where some “second generation” CAR T-cell therapies are now licensed for use on certain types of leukaemia and lymphoma.

With the trial underway, your donations enable travel and accommodation support to be available for patients outside the Wellington Region. About 12 patients are anticipated for this early exploratory phase trial. The data collected will be closely analysed with the option to lead to a phase 2 trial with more thorough tests.

In the long term, these T-cells could not only attack cancer cells but provide long-term protection against relapse, similar to a vaccine. Good things take time, and it’s early days, but with your help, LBC is delighted to support the Malaghan Institute’s ground-breaking research and stride toward our Vision to Cure.