The June laboratory has been dedicated to develop new forms of T cell based therapies for more than two decades. We have discovered several principles of lymphocyte costimulation, including CD28, 4-1BB and ICOS as examples. We translated these basic findings by developing a robust T cell culture system. Using this culture system, we conducted the first clinical evaluation of lentiviruses as a vector to modify T cells, initially in HIV and then in cancer patients with advanced leukemia. We conducted the first-in-human evaluation of chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) in T cells. We have since conducted many clinical trials with CAR T cells in patients with HIV infection and diverse forms of cancer. The impact of this work has become widely recognized as a major turning point that is delivering on the long-held promise of cancer gene therapy.
The CAR T cells invented in the June laboratory were awarded “Breakthrough Therapy” status by the FDA for acute leukemia in children and adults in 2014 and lymphoma for adults in 2018. The June laboratory has been highly productive with >400 peer reviewed publications (Google Scholar h-index: 117 and 49,000 citations). The technology invented in the June laboratory is now being developed for widespread use by Novartis, with FDA approval anticipated in 2017. These accomplishments have been recognized by the White House on several occasions.