Clinical Immunotherapy Program

UNC Lineberger is one of only a select few academic centers in the United States – and the only center in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia – with the scientific, technical and clinical capabilities to identify new tumor targets and then develop and infuse novel chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) immunotherapy. These therapies are manufactured at UNC Lineberger and are not commercially available. This makes it possible for people who live in or near the Southeastern U.S. to stay closer to home to undergo clinical immunotherapy treatment for cancer.

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In 2015, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center undertook a major initiative to harness the power of a patient's immune system to fight cancer with the recruitment of Gianpietro Dotti, MD, and Barbara Savoldo, MD, PhD.  These two investigators bring more than a decade of experience in the use of adoptive cell therapy for the treatment of patients with cancer, with a particular focus on the design and implementation of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modified T cells.

Under the direction of Jonathan Serody, MD, Dotti and Savoldo, the UNC Lineberger's Clinical Immunotherapy Program currently has five clinical trials open that are investigating the use of CAR-T therapies. A general description of the trials, plus links to the full study protocols, are available online. Future plans call for opening clinical trials for patients with relapsed multiple myeloma, glioblastoma multiforme or neuroblastoma.

Immuno-Oncology

During the past decade, research has shown that the immune system can be harnessed to treat multiple different types of cancer, including melanoma, lung, bladder, renal, head and neck cancers and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Additionally, there is increasing interest in evaluating approaches to enhance the immune response in the treatment of patients with other forms of cancer.  Researchers at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill have been at the forefront of both immuno-oncology scientific research and clinical studies. Currently, UNC Lineberger physicians have trials available using antibodies targeting immune checkpoints for patients with acute myelogenous leukemia, bladder cancer, lung cancer, and endometrial cancer.  Additionally, there are trials utilizing immune therapy for the treatment of patients with sarcoma. If you are interested in pursuing treatment on a clinical trial for these diseases please contact the UNC Lineberger Clinical Protocol Office.

Cell Manufacturing

UNC Lineberger opened its Advanced Cellular Therapeutics Facility in 2015. The facility, which is certified to use Current Good Manufacturing Practices as set by the FDA, is located approximately five miles off campus. Cellular therapy products are generated and expanded in this facility for patients receiving adoptive cell therapy for the treatment of cancer.