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Atlantic Health System enrolls first U.S. patient in lupus treatment trial

Leading edge research will determine value of CAR-T therapy in autoimmune disease

MORRISTOWN, NJ (Morris County) –– Atlantic Health System, a leading provider of health care in New Jersey, announced the groundbreaking treatment in 2023 of the first patient in the nation in a study to examine the effectiveness of using Chimeric Antigen Receptor CAR-T cells in the treatment of the autoimmune disease lupus.

This Phase 1, Multicenter, Open-Label Study Of CC-97540 (BMS-986353), CD19-Targeted Nex-T Chimeric Antigen Receptor CAR-T Cells focuses on individuals with severe, Refractory Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s tissues and organs. Patients with lupus can experience a range of often debilitating symptoms including muscle aching, joint pain and swelling, fatigue, fever and rashes. In severe cases, lupus can damage organs including the brain, kidneys, heart and lungs.

The study will explore the efficacy and safety of CAR-T cell therapy, already used in the treatment of cancer, in the treatment of lupus. You can learn more about lupus here and more about CAR-T here.

“CAR-T therapy continues to lead the field in research, representing a pivotal leap forward in our approach to treating patients, especially those facing complex medical challenges,” said Mohamad Cherry, MD, Medical Director, Hematology/Oncology, Atlantic Health System and Medical Director, Atlantic Cellular Therapy Program. “This study is a partnership between our Cellular Therapy Program and other luminaries in our health care system. We hope to collaboratively unlock novel avenues of care that will redefine the landscape of possibilities for these patients and their families.”

Pairing with Dr. Cherry to lead Atlantic Health’s research in this space is Neil Kramer, MD, co-founder of the Institute for Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases (IRAD) at Overlook Medical Center. Dr. Kramer, a rheumatologist at Atlantic Health is the principal investigator on the trial and an expert in the treatment of lupus. Together they are focusing on the crucial role of autoreactive B cells in lupus.

The study explores the potential advantages of utilizing CD19-specific CAR T cells to deplete CD19+ B cells. The process involves extracting the patient’s own T cells and using specialized machinery to engineer them to target their own B cells. The goal is to comprehensively eliminate the targeted cells, resulting in disease remission and potentially resetting the immune system back to a state of self-tolerance.

“The opportunity to provide lupus patients with access to this treatment, all while ensuring they receive the highest level of care, is a true testament to the collaboration between the cellular therapy and rheumatology programs,” said Dr. Kramer. “It’s not just a treatment; it’s a collaboration between innovative science and compassionate care, empowering us to pioneer new horizons in patient well-being.”

To learn more about clinical trial research happening across the system, visit the Atlantic Health System website.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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