From The Editor | May 23, 2024

ISCT 2024 With Dr. Bruce Levine


By Erin Harris, Editor-In-Chief, Cell & Gene
Follow Me On Twitter @ErinHarris_1


Cell & Gene: The Podcast features some of the CGT sector’s brightest leaders who share their expertise on the timeliest topics and trends. If you can’t tune in to every episode, I’ve got you covered. Here are highlights, quotes, and more from a recently aired episode.

The Episode:

Dr. Bruce Levine on ISCT and the Future of CAR-T

Guest At-A-Glance

Dr. Bruce Levine, Barbara and Edward Netter Professor in Cancer Gene Therapy, is the Founding Director of the Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility (CVPF) in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Abramson Cancer Center, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. In addition, he is a Co-Founder of Tmunity Therapeutics, a spin out of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Levine has overseen the production, testing and release of 3,100 cellular products administered to over 1,300 patients in clinical trials since 1996. He is co-inventor of the first FDA approved gene therapy (Kymriah), chimeric antigen receptor T cells for leukemia and lymphoma, licensed to Novartis and is also co-inventor on 27 issued U.S. patents.

Organization At-A-Glance

The International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy (ISCT) was established in 1992 and is a global society of clinicians, regulators, researchers, technologists, and industry partners with a shared vision to translate cell and gene therapy into safe and effective therapies to improve patients' lives worldwide.

ISCT is the global leader focused on pre-clinical and translational aspects of developing cell and gene-based therapeutics, thereby advancing scientific research into innovative treatments for patients. ISCT offers a unique collaborative environment that addresses three key areas of translation: Academia, Regulatory, and Commercialization. Through strong relationships with global regulatory agencies, academic institutions, and industry partners, ISCT drives the advancement of research into a standard of care.

Comprised of over 3,000 cell and gene therapy experts across five geographic regions and representation from over 60 countries, ISCT members are part of a global community of peers, thought leaders, and organizations invested in cell and gene therapy translation.

Episode Highlights

The Growth of ISCT

During the episode, Dr. Levine explained ISCT’s two-year / two-year / two-year term system, which includes President Elect, President, and Immediate Past President. Currently, he is Immediate Past President. During his term as President Elect, Dr. Levine had a vision for ISCT that included communicating the translational space to the membership as well as identifying ISCT’s three pillars – a science-based academia pillar, a pillar based in industry that is commercialization based, and a pillar in regulatory and quality operations. He explained that all three pillars are needed to bring cell and gene therapies from bench to the bedside and how ISCT provides rich advice to its members and is a trusted voice in the cell and gene therapy space.  

Increasing Access to CAR-T Therapy

Dr. Levine spent some time discussing the need to bring CAR-T cell therapy to parts of the world outside the U.S., as many countries simply to not have access at this time. He shared that only approximately 20% of patients who could possibly receive car-t cell therapy are able to receive it due to many factors including inequities in patient education, number of oncologists, lack of patient access in rural areas, etc.

Top Quotes

6:26:  “[2024 ISCT Vancouver] will be our 30th annual meeting, so we have a celebration for that. And we expect it to be our biggest meeting yet. We made some revisions to the way the meeting was organized a few years ago, and I think it has worked out really well. We have a translational pathway program that includes all the plenaries and the linear progress of cell and gene therapy.”

8:05: “[At 2024 ISCT Vancouver] We have a session on the cutting-edge of stem cell innovation, and we have another one enabling gene editing platforms for novel in vivo and ex vivo therapeutics. And, the third session I'm interested in are in vivo cell therapies the future. And then as far as roundtables, there’s one on autoimmune disease, which is a very hot topic.”

9:16: “What happens when we have approvals in autoimmune disease, solid cancers, and blood cancers? There aren’t enough humans on Earth to manufacture those ex vivo therapies. So, I’m co-founder of a spin-out developing in vivo CAR-T. There are about a dozen other companies in the U.S. and around the world looking at in vivo CAR-T using either a lentiviral vector or a virus-like particle, or a lipid nanoparticle encapsulating messenger RNA (mRNA).”

There’s More Where That Came From

Dr. Levine covers an array of important topics on the full-length episode. Listen in to hear his insight on what’s to come in immunotherapy, the near-term future of CAR-T therapy, solid tumors, autoimmune disease, and more.