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Bellicum Announces Publication in The New England Journal of Medicine Demonstrating Complete Reversal of Serious Immune Condition in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Patients
Date:11/2/2011

HOUSTON, Nov. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced publication in The New England Journal of Medicine of clinical results using a new therapy that demonstrated rapid and complete reversal of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).  The paper, Inducible Apoptosis as a Safety Switch for Adoptive Cell Therapy, reports on the use of Bellicum's CaspaCIDe technology to eliminate donor T cells causing GVHD, a serious and sometimes fatal complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), in patients with acute leukemias.  The study was conducted by researchers from the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital and The Methodist Hospital, using the drug AP1903 provided by Bellicum Pharmaceuticals.

CaspaCIDe technology consists of a drug-inducible "suicide" gene (iCasp9) introduced into therapeutic cells that are subsequently given to patients, and a drug (AP1903) that the physician administers if the cells cause unacceptable toxicity, triggering the suicide gene and leading to their rapid self-elimination.  In today's reported study, T cells with the genetic safety switch were infused into patients to determine if GVHD-causing T cells could be selectively eliminated, while preserving those that may support stem cell engraftment, fight infections and destroy any remaining cancer cells.  

In an accompanying NEJM editorial, Michel Sadelain, MD, PhD, Center for Cell Engineering, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, wrote: "An effective safety switch is needed in a rising spectrum of cell therapies in order to protect against an array of toxic effects," and called the clinical results with iCasp9 "compelling."

Study Details

The study enrolled five patients between the ages of 3 and 17 with acute leukemia, some of whom had previously relapsed.  All patients underwent HSCT from high GVHD ris
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SOURCE Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
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