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Scientists have created the first off-the-shelf CAR-T cells for a deadly form of adult leukemia, scientists in China told the (virtual) annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research on Tuesday. If the early results from their small study holds up, it would be an advance not only in this rare cancer but also for the CAR-T industry and potentially other cancers: showing the feasibility of CAR-Ts that could be delivered more quickly and affordably because they don’t have to be genetically engineered from each patient’s own cells.

In their first-in-human trial, physicians gave the off-the-shelf CAR-Ts to five patients with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), Xinxin Wang of Shanghai-based Gracell Biotechnologies told the online attendees. All five had relapsed after standard cancer treatment. One patient showed no enduring benefit. But four had so few leukemic cells four months after the CAR-T infusion they were barely detectable.

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