Mar 20, 2023
Dr. Tina Albertson is the Chief Medical Officer and Head of Development at Lyell, using cell therapy to fight solid tumors through epigenetic and genetic reprogramming methods. Tumors have their own mechanisms for suppressing the immune system. These are the types of pathways Lyell is targeting with their engineering to find ways to counter the exhaustion that the T cells exhibit so that T cells can stay functional and kill the solid tumor cells.
Tina explains, "Our cell therapies are from the patient's own cells, so these are what we call autologous cell therapies. We take the cells from the patient and bring them, in our case to Seattle, to our manufacturing facility. We both genetically and epigenetically reprogram them during manufacturing so that the cells will be resistant to the suppressive microenvironment of the solid tumors."
" I think most people are familiar with the concept of stem cells, which can self-renew as well as make cells that are functional and can differentiate. So when we reprogram them, we make them more stem-like, and this allows us to infuse cells into the patient that should be more persistent and more functional."
"The second product we're also testing in trials is tumor infiltrating lymphocytes or TILs. This is a product where you need a piece of their cancer or their tumor and extract the T cells from the tumor itself. That requires surgery, then a piece of tissue is also sent to our manufacturing facility. Those T cells are extracted and expanded. That takes a little bit longer. But similarly, once those are expanded to the right cell number, we send them back to the site to be reinfused into the patient."
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