Virus-Specific T-Cells (VST): Where We Are and How We Got Here

In this latest episode of ASTCT Talks, Dr. Genovefa Papanicolaou, MD sits down with Dr. Richard J. O'Reilly, MD and Professor Karl S. Peggs, MB, BCh, MA, MRCP, FRCPath to discuss Virus-Specific T-Cells (VST). They dive into what VSTs are, safety of VSTs, challenges and opportunities of adoptive cell therapy for viruses and more.

Disclaimer: Dr. Richard O’Reilly received royalties following licensure of the EBV-specific T-cell bank by Atara Biotherapeutics and has subsequently received research support and consultant fees from Atara Biotherapeutics.

About Genovefa Papanicolaou, MD

Genovefa Papanicolaou (@GenPapaMD) is an infectious disease physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and professor at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University in New York. She is the past Chair of the Transplant Infectious Disease Special Interest Group (TID-SIG) of ASTCT (2021-2023). Her research areas of interest include viral infections, biomarkers, and personalized infection management.

About Richard J. O'Reilly, MD

Richard J. O’Reilly, MD is the Claire L. Tow Chair in Pediatric Oncology Research and former Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. As Chief of the Bone Marrow Transplantation Services in both the Departments of Pediatrics and Medicine, Dr. O'Reilly pioneered transplantation approaches for patients who lack HLA matched siblings. He and his colleagues introduced the use of marrow transplants from matched unrelated donors and thereafter T-cell depleted transplants from HLA half matched donors for children with lethal immune deficiencies and both children and adults with leukemia.  In 1994, he introduced the use of transplant donor T-cells for the treatment of EBV-induced lymphomas. Currently, he is evaluating  adoptive cell therapy employing banked partially HLA-matched and appropriately HLA restricted T-cells from third party healthy donors for viral infections and  leukemias, conducting Phase I and II trials testing adoptive transfer of these  virus-specific and tumor-specific T-cells following T-cell depleted HCT as a therapeutic approach for EBV lymphoproliferative disease, drug resistant CMV infections and leukemic relapse in the post transplant period. 

About Professor Karl S. Peggs, MB, BCh, MA, MRCP, FRCPath

Karl completed his medical training at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. Following specialisation in Haematology, he spent 5 years developing adoptive cellular therapies for viruses at UCL. After taking the position Head of Adult Stem Cell Transplantation Services at UCLH, he spent 3 years at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, NY in the laboratory of Dr James Allison, contributing to the body of work underpinning checkpoint blockade that led to the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2018. On his return, he continued his work in the field of anti-viral T cell therapies, established the clinical translational side of the academic CAR T cell programme at UCLH and ran a joint Research Laboratory with Professor Sergio Quezada in the UCL Cancer Institute from 2010-2021, becoming Head of the Academic Research Department of Haematology in 2019 and Director of the Sir Naim Dangoor Centre for Cellular Therapy. He was a co-founder of Achilles Therapeutics in 2016, transitioning to the CMO role in 2021.

Tags: astct, cell therapy, T cells