We are embarking on an unprecedented era of therapeutic development enabled by live cell engineering. Genetic engineering of cells goes beyond a simplistic ´´hit-and-kill´´ approach using synthetic biology to enable smart decisions that allows transgenic cells to react in response to systemic cues and to the tumor-microenvironment with the aim to amplify anti-tumor directed immune responses. GMP-production, safety, target-specificity, and longevity of an autologous immune-cell graft targeting transformed cells are key unmet needs in designing cell therapies for patients with solid cancer. Innovative solutions include the possibility to rewire decision making of transgenic cells in regard to quality and strength of contextual immune effectorfunctions as well as epigenetic programming. Preclinical and clinical implementation surpasses the individual public, non-profit or industrial entities and calls for cross-fertilizing cooperation. The opportunity to develop a pre-competitive consortium of stakeholders can provide a nurturing environment to discuss challenges, outline solutions, and foster collaborations in order to achieve the ultimate goal of significantly improving the survival of patients with cancer.
Introduction: Dr. Markus Maeurer, Champalimaud Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal; Dr. Franco Marincola, Sonata, Boston, USA
Keynotes: Dr. Qi Cai, Director of Cell Biology, Kite Pharma, CA, USA; Dr. Jason Bock, CEO, CTMC, TX, USA
Perspectives: Dr. George Coukos, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; Dr. Sergio Quezada, UCL London