About 50 percent of dogs over the age of 10 and one in three in total will ultimately die of cancer. For most of us, this is a pretty devastating statistic, but founder and CEO of LEAH Labs, Wesley Wierson, joins the podcast today to explain how and why this could change. The key may very well lie in a newly FDA-approved therapy for leukemia and lymphoma in humans known as CAR T-cell therapy. Since dogs are commonly affected by B-cell lymphoma, which is the same as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, why aren’t we trying CAR T-cell therapy in dogs? One of the primary reasons is simply a matter of resources, as CAR T-cell therapy costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in humans. According to Wesley Wierson, however, it doesn’t have to.
At LEAH Labs, they’re flipping CAR T-cell therapy development on its head. Rather than using viruses to engineer T-cells, they are using gene editing to reprogram T-cells, and rather than generating autologous CAR T-cell therapies, they’re generating allogenic CAR T-cell therapies; together, these techniques significantly reduce the cost of an individual treatment to just about $1,000. This is paving the way for CAR T-cell therapies to be used in dogs with cancer, which not only provides hope for dogs and their owners, but also provides a superior model for understanding how this form of therapy works. As it currently stands, CAR T-cell development is done using immunocompromised mice, which is less than ideal for a number of reasons on which Wierson expounds in this episode.
Tune in for all the details, and learn more by visiting https://www.leahlabs.com/.