Nex-T up: Bristol-Myers using machine learning to optimize future CAR-T

Bristol-Myers Squibb says its next-generation CAR-T candidates, known as Nex-T, could offer faster and cheaper autologous cell therapies against multiple myeloma and lymphoma.

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) entered the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy space through the completion of its $74 billion acquisition of Celgene last November. Among the candidates BMS added to its pipeline were lisocabtagene maraleucel (liso-cel), an anti-CD19 targeting lymphoma, and idecabtagene vicleuce (ide-cel) being developed against multiple myeloma in partnership with Bluebird Bio, both in late-stage studies.

But speaking on an early pipeline and immuno-oncology call yesterday, management spoke about its cell therapy strategy and how its next-generation of candidates could overcome efficiency and cost issues in the current yield of CAR-T products.

Image: iStock/studiostockart

“Cell therapy is an emerging modality that will continue to evolve and mature for years as we have observed with both biologics and RNA-based therapeutics in the past,” Rupert Vessey, EVP of Research and Early Development, told investors.

“For our own efforts we see this evolving in several stages. In the near term we are invested in moving our best-in-class programs forward and ensuring that we capitalize on lifecycle management. In the mid-term we are working to optimize our manufacturing and looking forward to bringing our next generation CAR-T therapy forward known as Nex-T.”

According to BMS’s pipeline, Nex-T BCMA and Nex -T CD19 are in Phase I trials for multiple myeloma and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, respectively.

“Using a proprietary data integration platform, we’ve been able to deploy machine learning approaches to develop critical insights for our programs including optimize patient selection, rational combinations for platform studies and process improvements that have given rise to our Nex-T products that are now in the clinic. The Nex-T has the potential to markedly impact turnaround time and cost of goods for autologous cell therapy,” Vessey said.

Related news: FDA demands more manufacturing info to review ide-cel, says Bluebird

Related news: Liso-cel safety data bodes well as BMS tackles CAR-T headwinds

“Looking to the longer-term, we are deploying technologies for overcoming resistance to CAR-T therapy, expanding into solid tumors and creating off the shelf solutions for patients. As with so much of our research, we believe that our translational data sets represent a competitive advantage.”

He added BMS will continue building its cell therapy pipeline through “strategic collaborations” and move towards targeting solid tumors, along with “CAR-T cells armed with a tunable payload that can overcome tumor microenvironment persistence, fuel targeting CAR-T to mitigate escape through antigen loss and the engineering of allogeneic CAR-T to create off the shelf products.”

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