News of Note— A CAR-T for prostate cancer; targeting a faulty dementia gene; prompting cell suicide to treat leukemia

Micrograph showing the most common prostate cancer
Prostate cancer may be a future target for CAR-T cell therapy, one biotech company says.

A CAR-T for prostate tumors?

San Diego-based Poseida Therapeutics is developing a chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy for prostate tumors that’s showing early promise in a particularly aggressive strain of the disease. Researchers at the company implanted human cell lines from an incurable type of prostate tumor called LNCaP into mice. Their CAR-T eliminated the tumors, the company announced at a meeting of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. CAR-T technology is furthest along in treating blood cancers—Novartis' Kymriah was recently approved to treat some leukemia patients—but multiple efforts are underway to test the technique in solid tumors. Poseida's prostate cancer-targeting CAR-T survived in the animals until the end of the 90-day study period and did not show signs of the “T cell exhaustion” that can hamper durability, the company said. (Release)

A new drug target for Alzheimer’s and dementia

Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine have discovered that deficiencies in a gene called LSD1 induce changes in mice that resemble those seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease. When they studied brain samples from people with Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia (FD), they found that the LSD1 protein had accumulated in the brain “tangles” characteristic of Alzheimer’s, as well as in protein clumps that are seen in FD. They believe the findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, could help guide the development of drugs that target LSD1. (Release)

Prompting leukemia cells to self-destruct

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have developed a compound that induces “apoptosis,” or cell suicide, in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). It works by activating BAX, a protein that cripples cells by attacking their energy centers. It is designed to specifically target cancer cells, leaving healthy cells intact. Mice implanted with human AML cells and treated with the drug lived significantly longer than control animals, and 43% were still alive 60 days after the disease with no signs of the cancer. The compound, called BTSA1, and the animal study are described in the journal Cancer Cell. (Release)