Summit4CI Speaker Series

Summit4CI Speaker Series

Previous Sessions

Jump to: Session One | Session Two | Session Three | Session Four | Session Five

Session One: Back to top

Building a Trans-Canada Railway for CAR T-Cell Therapies
Monday, November 16, 2020, starting at 1:45pm EST / 10:45am PST

Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR T) therapy is a powerful tool for treating hematologic cancers and has begun to provide hope to patients without other therapeutic options to treat and cure their disease. This session, "Building a trans-Canada railway for CAR T-cell therapies," will include talks by four speakers who are members of a collaborative effort to enable the development of Canadian capacity for point-of-care CAR T-cell manufacturing. Dr. Natasha Kekre will speak about the development of the flagship ‘made-in-Canada' CD19 CAR T phase 1 clinical trial. Dr. Brad Nelson will discuss the development and manufacture of CAR T therapies and ensuing infrastructure and capacity development that will pave the way to enable more Canadian patients to access this new technology. Dr. Kevin Hay will present research on the development of a CD22 CAR, and Dr. Scott McComb will discuss future steps, including the development of a multi-targeted CARs, broader application of CARs to solid tumours, and other disease indications.

Learn more about CAR T in Canada

Speakers

Natasha Kekre

Dr. Natasha Kekre

Where we started: CLIC-01 CAR T clinical trial

Brad Nelson

Dr. Brad Nelson

Where we are: Point-of-care manufacturing

Kevin Hay

Dr. Kevin Hay

Where we are going next: Development of CD22 CAR T

Scott McComb

Dr. Scott McComb

What the future holds: novel CAR T design

Terry Hawrysh

Terry Hawrysh

Plain Language Summary Facilitator

Julian Smazynski

Julian Smazynski

Plain Language Facilitator

Natasha Kekre
Dr. Natasha Kekre
Where we started: CLIC-01 CAR T clinical trial
Brad Nelson
Dr. Brad Nelson
Where we are: Point-of-care manufacturing
Kevin Hay
Dr. Kevin Hay
Where we are going next: Development of CD22 CAR T
Scott McComb
Dr. Scott McComb
What the future holds: novel CAR T design

Who should attend?

Scientific and health care community including researchers, clinicians and HQP along with patients and caregivers. Note: There will be a plain language overview before the session begins and an opportunity to ask questions after the discussion.

Schedule (all times in EST)

1:45 pm - Julian Smazynski, PhD student with Dr. Brad Nelson, BCCA will provide a plain language overview of the talks. Terry Hawrysh will provide a plain language overview of the talks from a patient perspective.
2:00 pm - Talks by Drs. Natasha Kekre (OHRI), Brad Nelson (BCCA), Kevin Hay (BCCA) and Scott McComb (National Research Council of Canada)
3:00 pm - Q&A from plain language audience with Terry Hawrysh and Julian Smazynski
3:15 pm - Session end

You can read more about these research projects and biomanufacturing facilities here:

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Session Two: Back to top

Developing better CAR T-Cell Therapies by engaging patients, performing systematic reviews and assessing real-world and economic evidence
Wednesday, December 9, 1:30 pm – 3:15pm EST

Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy is a personalized immunotherapy, currently being assessed in a Canadian Phase I/II clinical trial to test safety and feasibility for relapsed/refractory blood cancer (CD19+ Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma). This virtual seminar will provide an overview of a multidisciplinary team's collaborative efforts to synthesize evidence for the development of this clinical trial protocol, using a novel approach (the ‘Excelerator' model). This approach involved the completion of a systematic review (objective review of existing trial data), engagement of patients and clinicians, and drawing from real world and economic evidence. Dr. Fergusson will provide a brief introduction. Dr. Kednapa Thavorn will discuss the team's use of economic modelling to select trial factors to maximize economic feasibility of the therapy, and Mackenzie Wilson (HQP) will discuss the current efforts and future directions to engage diverse stakeholders to inform this work. Gisell Castillo (HQP) will speak about the interviews that were conducted with patients and hematologists to identify potential barriers and enablers to participation and recruitment to the trial. The team will also discuss two ongoing projects which build on this work. Dr. Lalu will provide an overview on the team's patient engagement program throughout development of the trial protocol and plans to expand this program to other immunotherapy trials. Joshua Montroy (HQP) will also discuss ongoing work building on the initial systematic review, to use individual participant data meta-analysis to identify factors that may impact the efficacy of CAR-T cell therapy. Dr. Justin Presseau will moderate the question and answer period.

Speakers

Dean Fergusson
Kednapa Thavorn
Mackenzie Wilson
Gisell Castillo
Manoj Lalu
Joshua Montroy
Justin Presseau
Madison Foster
Terry Hawrysh

Who should attend?

Scientific and health care community including researchers, clinicians and HQP along with patients and caregivers. Note: There will be a plain language overview before the session begins and an opportunity to ask questions after the discussion.

Schedule (all times in EST)

1:30 pm - Plain language talk summary from Madison Foster (Clinical Research Assistant, OHRI, supervised by Drs. Dean Fergusson and Manoj Lalu). Terry Hawrysh will present the patient perspective.
2:00 pm - Introduction, Dr. Dean Fergusson
2:05 pm - Involving patients, healthcare providers, and health system stakeholders in an early economic evaluation of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell therapy, Dr. Kednapa Thavorn and Mackenzie Wilson (Clinical Research Assistant, OHRI, supervised by Dr. Justin Presseau)
2:15 pm - Cautious Hope in the Face of Uncertainty: Identifying barriers and enablers to recruiting to, and participating in, an early phase CART cell therapy trial, Gisell Castillo (Research Coordinator, OHRI, supervised by Dr. Justin Presseau)
2:25 pm - MARVEL project, Dr. Manoj Lalu
2:37 pm - Individual Participant Data Meta-Analysis, Joshua Montroy (Clinical Research Associate, OHRI, supervised by Drs. Manoj Lalu, Dean Fergusson)
2:45 pm - Q & A Session, Dr. Justin Presseau
2:55 pm - Wrap-up, Dr. Megan Mahoney
3:00 pm - Plain language Q & A, Madison Foster and Terry Hawrysh
3:15 pm - Session end

You can read more about these research projects here:

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Session Three: Back to top

COV-IMMUNO - A randomized, phase III trial of vaccination with IMM-101 versus observation for the prevention of severe COVID-19 related infections in cancer patients at increased risk of exposure
Date: Wednesday, January 13, 2021 | 1:45 - 3:15pm EST

The COVID-19 pandemic is a harsh reminder not to take our immune system for granted. The fact that some infected individuals clear the virus without symptoms contrasts with the damage that this virus does in more vulnerable populations, including cancer patients. The difference in severity is due to a number of factors, but most important is how well the innate arm of our immune system functions. Innate immunity provides a rapid, broad response and has been shown to be important in reducing the severity of many viral infections, including SARS and COVID-19. Patients who are receiving anti-cancer therapy are known to have suppressed immune systems, including poorer functioning innate immunity. However, there is evidence that the innate immune system can be boosted by vaccination against one infection to respond better to different infections, which is called "trained immunity".

The BCG vaccine against tuberculosis, which has been shown to train the innate immune system and protect against other infections, is also being tested against COVID-19 in health care workers but, because it is a live vaccine, it is not safe in immunosuppressed patients, like those with cancer.

We propose to use a new vaccine, IMM101, to train the immune system of vulnerable cancer patients. IMM-101 is a heat-killed vaccine so it is safe to use in cancer patients. We are therefore undertaking a clinical trial that will enroll 1500 cancer patients from across Canada who are at high risk of COVID-19 since they cannot self-isolate because they have to go to the cancer center to receive anti-cancer therapy.

The patients will be randomly assigned to receive either IMM-101 or to simply be observed over the course of their cancer therapy. If patients who receive IMM-101 suffer fewer and/or less severe respiratory infections, including COVID-19, compared to unvaccinated patients, there will be strong evidence to adopt this as a standard therapy for these patients, both in Canada and internationally.

Speakers

Rebecca Auer
Chris O'Callaghan
Judy Needham

Who should attend?

Scientific and health care community including researchers, clinicians and HQP along with patients and caregivers. Note: There will be a plain language overview before the session begins and an opportunity to ask questions after the discussion.

Schedule (all times in EST)

1:45 - 2:00 pm - plain language summary by Judy Needham
2:00 - 3:00 pm - talks by Drs. Auer and O'Callaghan
3:00 - 3:15 pm - plain language Q&A
3:15 pm session end

You can read more about this research project here:

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Session Four: Back to top

Therapeutic inducers of Natural Killer cell killing (ThINKK) : a novel approach to prevent cancer relapses after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
Date: Thursday, February 4, 2021 | 1:30 - 3:15pm EST

As a pediatric hematologist-oncologist, I am keenly aware that some children with leukemia can only be cured by hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, more commonly known as a bone marrow transplant. As a stem cell transplanter, I painfully know that almost half of these transplanted children will ultimately suffer from leukemia relapse and die from their disease. As an immunologist, I also know that after the transplant, the patient's immune system is rebuilt from the graft stem cell. Scientific research shows that two components of this new immune system can help cure the disease by directly killing leukemia cells: T cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells. Unlike NK cells, T cells can attack the patient's normal tissues. This transplant side-effect is known as Graft-versus-Host Disease. It can lead to the patient's death.

The central idea of our research is that proper activation of graft-derived NK cells will prevent leukemia relapse. Indeed, data shows that activating these NK cells can cure leukemia.

We gave interferon-alpha, an NK-cell-activating protein, to post-transplant children with early signs of recurring leukemia and observed leukemia disappearance in some of them. But this effect is weak and inconsistent. However, natural activation of NK cells is not induced by a single protein, but rather by rare and specialized cells producing a vast array of proteins. These cells are called "plasmacytoid dendritic cells", or "pDCs". Therefore, we investigated how we could use these pDCs to activate post-transplant NK cells against leukemia.

Despite the common belief that lymphoblastic leukemia is resistant to NK cells, we demonstrated that pDCs were able to stimulate NK cells to kill lymphoblastic leukemia. We found that pDCs were absent or inactive in patients up to one year after transplantation, whereas NK cells were present and fully functional as early as six weeks after transplant. We set up a preclinical mouse model to simulate what happens in patients when they receive a transplantation. In this model, we showed that human pDCs were able to activate human NK cells to eradicate human leukemia.

However, there are two hurdles with pDCs. First, they are so rare that they cannot be extracted from humans for therapeutic usage. Thus, we devised a method to produce them from stem cells in sufficient numbers to treat patients. Second, some of the pDCs, and particularly a subtype called "AXL+", can activate T cells, and this can lead to lethal Graft-versus-Host Disease. As a result, we investigated the cells we grew from stem cells and discovered that they harbor very few AXL+ cells, that they did not activate T cells, and neither did they cause Graft-versus-Host Disease, in a preclinical mouse model. As their activating properties are restricted to NK cells, we named our cells "Therapeutic Inducers of NK cell killing", or "ThINKK".

ThINKK are not rejected by T cells, allowing us to grow them from a third-party stem cell source, with no relation to the transplant donor or recipient. ThINKK's activity is not reduced by most of the immunosuppressants used in patients after transplantation. They can be cryopreserved without losing their biological properties, which means they can be used as an "off-the-shelf product". We defined the optimal dosage and administration schedule in our preclinical mouse model.

With these data in hand, the next steps are to scale-up the production to "Good Manufacturing Process" grade, and to confirm the absence of toxicity of ThINNK in a setting accepted by regulators such as Health Canada and the US Food and Drugs Administration. We will then be able to proceed to the clinical trial.

Speakers

Michel Duval
Marie-France Langlet
Nicolas Poirier

Who should attend?

Scientific and health care community including researchers, clinicians and HQP along with patients and caregivers. Note: There will be a plain language overview before the session begins and an opportunity to ask questions after the discussion.

Schedule (all times in EST)

1:30 - 2:00 pm - HQP & patient perspective talks
2:00 - 3:00 pm - talk from Dr. Michel Duval (Université de Montréal/ CHU Sainte-Justine)
3:00 - 3:15 pm - plain language Q&A
3:15 pm session end

You can read more about this research project here:

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Session Five: Back to top

"Engineered Biovesicles" - A new platform for cancer immunotherapeutics
Date: Monday, February 22, 2021 | 1:30 - 3:15pm EST

Biovesicles are a class of tiny synthetic or biological particles that can be used for disease diagnosis or therapeutic delivery. Our bodies are made up of billions of cells that coalesce into a wide array of interactive tissues. To co-ordinate activities within and between our different tissue types, we have evolved a variety of inter-cellular communication networks. Some simple interactions are controlled by single, small molecules called hormones whereas more complex messages require sophisticated transfer of information packages using "subcellular nanoparticles or biovesicles" that are jettisoned from one cell and selectively taken up by a distant recipient cell. During normal human growth and development, biovesicles play a key role in ferrying multiple forms of genetic information between cells and tissues within the body. There is now world-wide scientific evidence to support the notion that we can engineer and use biovesicles as nanomedicines to carry therapeutic information for the treatment of a wide spectrum of human diseases, including cancers. Our team has developed a novel therapeutic platform for producing therapeutic biovesicles in situ in the tumour niche. In this section, we will discuss our strategy to "hack" into the natural communication system used by biovesicles to transmit therapeutic information between cells and promote effective anti-tumour immunity.

Speakers

Carolina Ilkow
Eva Villalba
Abera Surendran

Who should attend?

Scientific and health care community including researchers, clinicians and HQP along with patients and caregivers. Note: There will be a plain language overview before the session begins and an opportunity to ask questions after the discussion.

Schedule (all times in EST)

1:30 - 2:00 pm - HQP & patient perspective talks
2:00 - 3:00 pm - talk from Dr. Carolina Ilkow (The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute)
3:00 - 3:15 pm - plain language Q&A
3:15 pm session end

You can read more about this research project here: