New data on risks vs. benefits of CAR-T cancer drugs to be shared this weekend

New data on risks vs. benefits of CAR-T cancer drugs to be shared this weekend

New data on riskss vs. benefit of experimental chimeric antigen receptor T-cells (CAR-Ts) will likely be in focus this weekend when companies will present their clinical results at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

CAR-Ts are a promising but risky collection of customized cancer drugs, which are produced by genetically changing a patient's own T-cells in the laboratory. The altered T-cells are then pumped back into the patient's body to help the immune system to find and destroy cancer cells.

Kite Pharma Inc. and Juno Therapeutics Inc. are two of the few companies that are expected to announce their clinical results on their respective experimental drugs.

Juno's experimental drug, JCAR015, generated concerns earlier this year after five cancer patients died because of severe brain swelling after receiving the drug.

Brad Loncar, who manages the Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF, said, "Juno has dug themselves into such a deep hole. My guess is that they may drop the JCAR015 program."

Bluebird Bio Inc. is also experimenting with its CAR-T therapy dubbed bb2121, which it developed in partnership with Celgene Inc.

Stock in Bluebird Bio gained 14 per cent on Thursday after a study showed that its bb2121 drug induced remission in several cancer patients with no troublesome side effects. Kite Pharma shares have tripled since a 2014 initial public offering, while Juno shares are now trading nearly 14 per cent below their IPO price.

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