Enhancement of effectiveness and safety CAR-T cells and development of therapies against cancers not yet curable

  • Financial Contribution:

    10 million €

    Provided by the Ministry of Health

  • Duration:

    2 years

    Start: 27 November 2019


A revolution in the immunotherapy field for treating Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (LLA) was the development of genetically modified T cells expressing chimeric antigenic receptors (CAR) against cancer targets.

However, despite the effectiveness of CAR-T cells in treating LLA, these cells have been associated with a safety profile not yet optimal; for example, severe toxicity has been reported in some patients who have received CAR-T cell therapy. Also, in the context of other malignant hematological diseases (such as Acute Myeloid Leukemia, AML) and solid tumours, the approach effectiveness was limited.

As a result, the CAR-T research project, promoted by the Ministry of Health and developed under the aegis of the Alliance Against Cancer (ACC), aims to enhance CAR- T cell therapy efficacy by creating a synergistic network that combines the expertise of the different institutions. The project is arranged into six different Work Packages (WP), each with well-defined objectives.

Work Packages

Project phases.

  • Work Package 1

    Coordination of the different WPs, for which the project is articulated as well as the development of new production processes for CAR cells used by other WPs in a transverse way.

  • Work Package 2

    Identification of new targets selectively expressed on neoplastic cells and suitable for (or compatible with) clinical use of CAR-T cells.

  • Work Package 3

    Preclinical development of CAR-killer cells recognizing innovative targets in solid tumours and hematologic neoplasms other than B-cell cancers.

  • Work Package 4

    New strategies to improve activation, expansion, survival, tissue penetration, cytotoxicity and monitoring of the cells expressing CAR.

  • Work Package 5

    Strategies to improve the safety profile of CAR-T cells.

  • Work Package 6

    Definitions of legal aspects and intellectual property.

Project coordinator

Franco Locatelli

The scientific coordinator, Prof. Franco Locatelli, is the Director of Onco-Hematology and Cell and Gene Therapy Department of the Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesù, in Rome.