| Adi Barzel, PhD, Senior Lecturer at Tel Aviv University; President of the Israeli Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, Co-Founder of LogicBio Therapeutics|
What is your area of research in lymphocyte engineering?
We engineer T cells and B cells to fight cancer, infections and autoimmune diseases. My lab develops novel immunotherapy approaches, targeting immune genes into the genome of lymphocytes. In particular, we target chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) or T cell receptor (TCR) genes into the genome of T cells, and we target antibody genes into the genome of B cells.
What is exciting about lymphocyte engineering today?
Great strides have been made in recent years in the engineering of lymphocytes for the treatment of cancer, autoimmune diseases, pathogenic diseases and primary immune deficiencies. Combining gene therapy, cell therapy and immunotherapy, the emerging field of lymphocyte engineering employs cutting-edge technologies of viral and non-viral vectorology, genome editing and protein design as well as advanced clinical protocols. With groundbreaking clinical success, leading to FDA approved products and with vibrant, exponentially growing research, lymphocyte engineering is the wave of the future.
What are the main challenges holding back breakthroughs in the field?
Some main challenges in the field are:
- How can we identify patients who will best react to the treatment?
- How can we predict and reduce dangerous side effects?
- How can we apply the technology to broader indications, including solid tumors, pathogenic diseases, and autoimmune disease?
- How can we avoid relapse?
- How can we control and regulate the effect?
- How can we make the treatment more scalable, reduce costs and timelines and allow autonomous treatment at the point of care?
These are all areas of intensive research.
How can we start to tackle them?
Realizing the full promise of lymphocyte engineering will require the combined efforts of a dedicated community.
This is why we are launching ICLE. The conference will facilitate the sharing of data and ideas, promote collaborations, and address common challenges to advance clinical translation.
The conference will have a unique focus on the interface between immunotherapy, gene therapy and cell therapy. It will provide an effective networking environment for researchers and clinicians interested in the engineering of lymphocytes for the immunotherapy of cancer, pathogenic diseases, autoimmune diseases and primary immunodeficiencies.
Why is it so important to the advancement of lymphocyte engineering that we bring together different research, clinical fields and disease specialties?
Many challenges are common among researchers who are using lymphocyte engineering to address diverse unmet clinical needs. Common challenges may be related to cell harvest and manipulation, vector design and production, transduction schemes, infusion protocols and patient management. The ICLE will provide a perfect opportunity for researchers to interact with peers to share successes and discuss obstacles in order to benefit their own translational research as well as the community in large.
What is your vision for the field of lymphocyte engineering?
Can you share some highlights of the conference?
Our Keynote speakers, Professors Malcolm Brenner, Carl June and Zelig Eshhar are leading pioneers in the field of cancer immunotherapy with seminal contributions from basic conceptualization to clinical application. They are joined by a remarkable group of clinicians and researchers from both academia and industry, standing at the forefront of the field of lymphocyte engineering.
The speakers combine diverge expertise, innovating and advancing lymphocyte engineering. They will tackle the still standing challenges on the road to a profound and lasting impact on global health.