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UCL CAR T-cell programme

The UCL CAR T-cell programme is centered at the UCL Cancer Institute where researchers focus on developing CAR T-cell therapies for adult cancers.

Key researchers in the cancer institute are Dr Martin Pule, Prof. Karl Peggs, Dr Claire Roddie and Dr Lydia Lee. The CAR T-cell programme also includes researchers working in paediatric oncology at the Institute of Child Health (ICH) which is part of UCL and is affiliated with UCLH. Key researchers in ICH are Prof Persis Amrolia, Dr Sara Ghorashian and Dr Karin Straathof.

Clinical grade cell manufacture 

A crucial part of the CAR T-cell programme is clinical grade CAR T-cell manufacture. Prof Mark Lowdell, Director of Cellular therapy at Royal Free London NHS Foundation is director of the main GMP facility at UCL. Working with Dr Claire Roddie, CAR T-cell products are manufactured at this facility for academic clinical studies. Some CAR T-cell products made in collaboration with Autolus are manufactured at the UK Cell Therapy Catapult facility in Stevenage.

Vector Manufacture

Vector production for the CAR T-cell programme is provided through the most important collaboration of the programme outside UCL with Prof Farzin Farzaneh at KCL.

Regulatory / Clinical affairs

The Cancer Research UK & UCL Cancer Trials Centre (UCL CTC) develops and conducts clinical studies. The UCL CTC has a unit specialized in delivery of ATIMP clinical studies headed by Dr Kim Champion.

Research and Development links with industry

The CAR T-cell field is becoming increasingly commercialized with considerable contributions to the field being made by industry. The UCL CAR T-cell programme has a track record of collaborating with industry.

In 2013. an industrial collaboration between Dr Martin Pule, Prof. Karl Peggs with the genome-editing company Cellectis led to the development of the first allogeneic 'off-the-shelf' CAR T-cell approach. This collaboration led to licensing of technology to Cellectis and the first gene-editing CAR T-cell to be tested in human subjects.

More recently, the UCL CAR T-cell programme has spun-out a company called Autolus Ltd, which has licensed several technologies from UCL and also collaborates extensively with the programme.

The UCL CAR T-cell programme is ranked 2nd in 2019 for CAR T-cells patented among Universities and research institutes.