Featured Topic

Cellular Therapies: New Opportunities and New Challenges


Monday, October 16, 2023

1:00pm - 5:00 pm

The roles that the immune system plays in cancer and in transplantation/ autoimmunity may be described as the two sides of a single coin. The immune responses involved are diametrically opposed, so are the treatment modalities. In this featured topic, state-of-the art cellular therapies utilized in cancer, and in tolerance induction for transplantation / autoimmunity, will be reviewed. Additionally, we will discuss the importance of establishing standards for high quality medical and laboratory practice in cellular therapies with a panel discussion with renowned experts in the field.

Introducing the Featured Topic
1:00pm - 1:10pm

For the last 60 years the fields of HLA and of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), the oldest form of cellular therapy, have evolved in parallel both in the understanding of biological processes and on its clinical applications. HCT has served as a springboard for the rapid advancement of other cellular therapies. Several therapies developed in the last ten years, such as CAR-T cells, are based on engineered autologous cells. To expand patient access, however, efforts to develop allogeneic versions of these therapies are rapidly advancing. The HLA community has the opportunity and the duty to participate and facilitate these advancements. A brief overview of the major cell therapy modalities will serve as introduction to the symposium.
Maria Bettinotti, PhD, F(ACHI), FACMGG


Session 1: Cellular Therapies in Cancer
1:10pm - 2:40pm

Cellular therapies are designed to improve the immune system's ability to fight disease. Many types of cellular therapy for cancer have been developed in the last twenty years. The latest innovations in CAR T and NK cell therapies will be presented.  

Matthew Anderson, MD, PhD, A(ACHI), FCAP
Maria Bettinotti, PhD, F(ACHI), FACMGG

Learning Objectives:

  1. Outline the role of NK cells in anti-cancer immunity.
  2. Summarize the state of CAR T application in hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.
  3. understand not only the opportunities but also the challenges encountered for the advancement of these treatment modalities.

Clinician’s Perspective on Car T Cells and Allogeneic Immune Effector Cells     
1:10pm - 1:55pm

Heather Stefanski, MD, PhD

NK Cells vs. T cells: What is Ideal Cell for Allogeneic Immune Effector Cellular Therapy?
1:55pm - 2:40pm
Hind Rafei, MD, MS


Session 2: Cellular Therapy for the Induction of Clinical (transplant) Tolerance 2:50 – 4.05 PM

At present organ and tissue transplantations require life-long immunosuppressive treatments which have severe side effects that can result in graft loss and patient deaths. This session reviews currently available and future promising cellular therapies that can minimize or completely stop the use of immunosuppressive drugs, thus aiming for “one transplant for life”. 

William Hildebrand, PhD, F(ACHI)
Martin Maiers

Learning Objectives:

  1. To understand the various approaches wherein donor derived stem cells and other tolerogenic cell subsets are utilized for the induction of clinical transplant tolerance. The presentation aims to review all approaches used around the world including the Northwestern programs that have the largest number of patients without immunosuppression.
  2. To learn about the use of polyclonally and donor-specifically expanded regulatory T cells (Tregs) of recipient origin for the amelioration of auto-immune diseases and treatment of post-transplant complications as well as for the induction of tolerance / drug minimization in humans.
  3. To discover the power of engineered cells, particularly CAR-Tregs as potential therapeutic agents in immune mediated diseases and transplant tolerance induction.

Transient and Stable Chimerism-Mediated Clinical Transplant Tolerance
2:50pm - 3:15pm
Joseph R. Leventhal, MD, PhD

Regulatory T Cell Therapy in Human (Autoimmunity and) Transplantation
3:15pm - 3:40pm
James Mathew, PhD

Engineered Cells and CAR-Tregs as Potential Tools for Tolerance Induction
3:40pm - 4:05pm
Everett Meyer


Session 3: Regulatory Aspects of Cellular Therapies and the Role of Laboratories Supporting Them - 4:05pm - 5:00pm

The Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Phyllis I. Warkentin, will describe the crucial part that FACT plays in establishing standards for high quality medical and laboratory practice in cellular therapies. A panel discussion will explore challenges encountered by cellular therapy programs, such as funding, regulatory aspects, and laboratory support.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To learn about the origins of FACT, co-founded by the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy (ISCT) and the American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (ASTCT), its standards and accreditation program, and its increasing international presence.
  2. To understand the standards and regulations followed by cellular therapy programs, and the role of voluntary accreditation in meeting the challenges of increasing capacity and patient access.
  3. To gain insights on the challenges and opportunities encountered by cellular therapy programs including regulatory, funding and laboratory support aspects.

Zachary Antovich, BS
Abeer Madbouly, PhD

The Role of FACT Accreditation in Cellular Therapy

4:05pm - 4:35pm
Phyllis Warkentin, MD

Panel Discussion
4:35pm - 5:00pm