Innovative cell therapy may open up new avenues for cancer treatment.

New cell therapy could mean a paradigm shift in cancer treatment that occur in various organs. There is an opportunity to develop new individual treatment options. This is especially important for critically ill patients with difficult treated types of oncology. The therapy is based on "turning off" a certain protein. It increases the activity of a person's own immune cells. The efficacy, tolerability and immunological effects of the new cell therapy are currently being investigated. The investigation is carried out in the Department of Blood Group Serology and Transfusion Medicine in cooperation with the Department of Oncology of the Medical University of Vienna and the Vienna General Hospital (AKH). 42,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Austria every year. Malignant tumors are the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular disease. Developing cell therapy may open up new treatment options for critically ill patients. These are patients who cannot be standard treated. -Immune cells with the cell therapy fight tumors more vigorously. The new cell therapy involves the collection of immune cells (leukocytes). This can be made with an apheresis device with using the ulnar veins. The Cbl-b protein is disconnected from the extracted cells in the laboratory. “This protein is responsible for suppressing the immune response against tumor cells. Protein reduces the activity of most immune cells. Research has shown that disabling the Cbl-b protein enhances the immune response against tumor cells” explains Nina Worel from the Department of Blood Group Serology and Blood Transfusion Medicine.

The new cell therapy targets the patient's own immune cells.

These cells are modified so they can recognize and destroy cancer cells. This eliminates the need for constant genetic manipulation. The immune system fights the tumor more vigorously after reinfusion.

“Using cell therapy allows the patient’s immune system directly attack the tumor. This is a very promising approach. Doctors sorely need new, safe and effective treatment options. Especially for patients with seriously advanced tumors” says Worel.

An innovative manufacturing and treatment process gives possibility to treat starts from cell harvesting to reinfusion in one day. A clinical trial is currently underway of further investigation of the immunological treatment effects with the candidate medication APN401 (APEIRON Biologics AG), also its efficacy, safety and tolerability. 

“With its rapid applicability, immune activation, safety and efficacy this new cell therapy can outperform already existing cell-based therapies. We are delighted to start this study for the European region and gain new insights here in Vienna” says Worel. This clinical study is funded and conducted by APEIRON Biologics AG.