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Dr. Brad Nelson - Immunotherapy Research
For more information, contact:

William Litchfield
Executive Director

With current estimations that one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, this disease continues to take more lives than any other.

Enter Immunotherapy

A wealth of recent scientific studies indicates that an immune-based strategy for cancer will lead to better outcomes. In fact, for virtually every type of cancer, there is now clear evidence that patients who mount a strong immune response are likely to experience better outcomes.

BC Cancer’s Deeley Research Centre (DRC) in Victoria is one of the first sites in the world to pioneer an immunotherapy research program that uses genomic approaches to generate more precise immune responses against cancer. DRC Director Dr. Brad Nelson and his team are joining forces with experts at BC Cancer’s Genome Sciences Centre in Vancouver to deliver personalized immunotherapy to patients, with one area of work highly focused on Chimeric Antigen Receptor T (CAR-T) cells.

CAR-T cells are powerful new tools for treating cancer that are created by genetically modifying a person’s existing T-cells. Once inside the blood, the CAR-T cells will circulate throughout the body to destroy cancer cells wherever they may be hiding. Cancers can start disappearing within weeks of treatment. Once the cancer has gone into remission, patients will return home along with their new “super-charged” immune system, which should stop the cancer from returning in the future.

Bringing The Best Treatment Options To Patients

Continued philanthropic funding for immunotherapy will enable BC Cancer to take its place among the very best cancer programs around the world and lead the way to better outcomes and an exemplary care experience for people diagnosed with this disease.

“Immunotherapy is yielding remarkable outcomes for cancer patients, making it by far the most exciting and active area of oncology today.”

-Dr. Brad Nelson, director and distinguished scientist, BC Cancer Deeley Research Centre

Immunotherapy Research Underway

A multi-site Phase I/II clinical trial of made-in-Canada CD19 CAR-T cells for patients with relapsed and refractory leukemia and lymphoma is now underway and a team of highly qualified personnel has been assembled, with expertise ranging from cancer immunology to quality system management to clinical care. Phase II of this trial is set to launch soon and will enrol 20-30 B.C. patients over the next two years.

In addition to this trial, several promising CAR-T based initiatives are underway:

  • A novel CD22 CAR-T cell product for leukemia and lymphoma is currently in development, with a Phase I clinical trial projected to open in the spring of 2022;
  • A Phase I trial of a novel engineered T cell therapy for pancreatic cancer is expected to open in spring 2024;
  • A novel multi-targeted CAR-T cell product for leukemia and lymphoma and another strategy for recurrent gynecologic cancers are in development;
  • In partnership with researchers across Canada and around the world, BC Cancer is participating in multi-site trials to investigate the efficacy of CAR-T products developed and manufactured in B.C.
  • Our scientists are working closely with the National Research Council of Canada to develop new CAR-T products for hematological and solid tumour target antigens
  • A partnership with investigators in Denmark will help establish CD19 CAR-T cell delivery internationally.

With continued philanthropic support, BC Cancer’s CAR-T cell program will expand beyond leukemia and lymphoma to create new and improved treatments for a wide spectrum of cancers. Patients will live longer, and their immune system will be supercharged to respond whenever and wherever cancer may recur.