SWG Educational Activities

Meetings and Workshops

  • EHA SWG Workshop about the topic (preliminary) “Novel strategies of immunotherapy of hematological malignancies: from basic science to clinical application” during the EHA congress in Stockholm, 2018.

  • The first European CAR T Cell Workshop was organized together with the EBMT in Paris 14-16 February 2019 –more than 600 attendees and nearly 1000 applications with all major players in the field from US/EU attending. Due to the great success of the First European CAR T Cell Workshop 2019 EHA and the EHA SWG “Immune Therapies for Hematological Disorders” will organize a 2nd European CAR T Cell Meeting in 30th January – 1st February 2020.

Research Activities

a) Cooperation activities with three projects funded by the European Commission and participation of the members of the SWG Immune Therapies for Hematologic Disorders:

1. EU-Horizon 2020 EURECART (European Endeavour for Chimeric Antigen Receptor Therapies)

Cancer is a chronic disease rapidly becoming the most frequent cause of morbidity and mortality in the EU. Though enormously expensive (several billions EUR/year), currently available anti-cancer therapies are highly toxic and often ineffective and are major causes of chronic diseases. Adoptive immunotherapy with T cells genetically modified to express a tumor-reactive chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) is an innovative therapeutic concept, promising to eradicate cancer once for all, without causing chronic disabilities. The goal of EURE-CART is to bring EU at the forefront CAR-T cell immunotherapy and extending its applicability to incurable tumors that so far have never been tackled with this approach.

EURE-CART project’s main object is to conduct a multicenter, first-in-man Phase I/IIa clinical trial to demonstrate the safety and the efficacy of CD44v6 CAR-T cell immunotherapy in acute myeloid leukemia and multiple myeloma. CD44v6 CAR-T is part of the CAR-T (Chimeric antigen-receptor-engineered T cells) family: lymphocytes armed with chimeric receptors that have demonstrated high anti-tumor potential, also against tumors, which are particularly aggressive and resistant to traditional therapies. CAR-CD44v6, which has already been successfully tested in appropriate murine models, represents a product candidate with a particularly high therapeutic potential, as it specifically recognizes variant 6 (v6) of the antigen CD44 (CD44v6), expressed by many hematological malignancies, including acute myeloid leukemia and multiple myeloma - as well as by several epithelial tumors, including breast, colon, pancreatic, head-and-neck and lung carcinomas.

The European Union has awarded EURE-CART with 5 Million Euro within the Horizon 2020 - Research and Innovation Framework Program, section reserved to the new therapies for chronic diseases (including cancer). To carry out this project and to reach clinical translation, a consortium of nine partners from five different EU countries has been established. The project started on January 1st, 2017 and will go on until December 2020.

Coordinator:

  • Prof. Dr. Attilio Bondanza, Ospedale San Raffaele S.r.l., Italy.

Other scientific partners:

  • Claudio Bordignon and Dr. Catia Traversari, Firma MolMed S.p.A., Italy;
  • Prof. Dr. Hermann Einsele and Dr. Michael Hudecek, Universitätsklinikum Würzburg, Germany;
  • Prof. Dr. Franco Locatelli, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, Italy;
  • Prof. Dr. Jorge Sierra, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Spain;
  • Prof. Dr. Roman Hájek, University Hospital Ostrava, Czech Republic;
  • Dr. Maria Cristina Galli, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Italy.

2. EU-Horizon 2020 CARAMBA (A phase I/IIa clinical trial to assess feasibility, safety and the antitumor activity of autologous SLAMF7 CAR T cells in multiple myeloma)

At the beginning of the year, a new EU-funded cancer immunotherapy project started: Caramba. The aim is to bring the revolutionary immunotherapy with CAR-T cells for the treatment of multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, in clinical application. Here, white blood cells are taken from the patient and equipped with a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), which, like a sensor, recognizes a molecule with the scientific name SLAMF7 on the myeloma cells and then destroys these tumor cells.

In Caramba, a phase I/II clinical trial is now evaluating safety and efficacy in humans. The European Commission is funding the project for a total of € 6.1 million over four years within the Horizon 2020 program. The international research project involves ten partners from six EU countries, including four top clinical centers in cancer medicine.

Coordinator:

  • Dr. Michael Hudecek, Universitätsklinikum Würzburg, Germany.

Scientific participants:

  • Prof. Dr. Hermann Einsele, Dr. Sophia Danhof, Würzburg, UKW, Würzburg, Germany
  • Prof. Dr. Attilio Bondanza, Prof. Dr. Chiara Bonini, Prof. Dr. Fabio Ciceri, Ospedale San Raffaele, OSR, Milano, Italy
  • Prof. Jesus San Miguel, Dr. Juan Jose Lasarte, Clínica Universidad de Navarra, CUN, Pamplona, Spain
  • Prof, Dr. Thierry Facon, Prof, Dr. Ibrahim Yakoub-Agha, Lille University Hospital, France
  • Dr. Zoltán Ivics, Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, PEI, Germany
  • Prof. Halvard Bönig, DRK-Blutspendedienst Baden-Württemberg-Hessen, DRK-BSD, Mannheim, Germany

b) The Innovative Training Network of the Marie Curie - a program of the EU - in the field of immunological cancer therapy and tumor immunology.

The program is led by a high-level consortium involving national and international researchers from 10 European research institutions from Vienna, Bristol, Freiburg, Cologne, Würzburg and Madrid.
The goal of the program is to train 10 doctoral students in the field of immunological cancer therapy and tumor immunology. In the course of their training program, the doctoral students will complete training sessions in the laboratories of the consortium partners.

The scientific aim of the ITN is to gain fundamental insights into the recognition of tumor cells by white blood cells, T cells, and to incorporate this knowledge into the development of new immunological cancer therapies, in which both the physiological T cell receptors of the white blood cells, as well as synthetic chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) are used. In order to gain a better understanding of tumor recognition by white blood cells, state-of-the-art biophysical microscopy techniques with high-throughput and high-resolution microscopy are used.

The project started in January 2017 with a kick-off meeting in Madrid and will run until the end of 2020. The total funding volume is 2.5 million euros.

c) Clinical guidance on diagnosis and treatment initiatives in your disease areas:

  • Committee on novel radiological assessment
  • novel methods in nuclear medicine to detect receptors at low density on tumor and normal cells
  • Side Effect Management: Important topic of the EHA SWG IO aiming to generate European Guidelines

d) Networks for sharing data and guidelines: Interaction with EBMT (EBMT working party in immunobiology on cell therapy)

e) Training for doctors and learning centers: educational events organized

  • Lecture by Hermann Einsele in Cluj October 2018 and training of doctors and nurses from Cluj in immunotherapy in Würzburg
  • Preceptorship in Vienna organized by Ulrich Jäger (with participation of Hermann Einsele) May 2019
  • EHA SWG IO working group sessions in 2019 (Amsterdam) at the Annual EHA Meeting