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Atlantic Health System Enrolls First U.S. Patient in Lupus Treatment Trial

February 8, 2024

Leading edge research will determine value of CAR-T therapy in autoimmune disease

MORRISTOWN, N.J., February 8, 2024 –– Atlantic Health System, a leading provider of health care in New Jersey, announced the groundbreaking treatment in 2023 of the first patient in the nation in a study to examine the effectiveness of using Chimeric Antigen Receptor CAR-T cells in the treatment of the autoimmune disease lupus. This Phase 1, Multicenter, Open-Label Study Of CC-97540 (BMS-986353), CD19-Targeted Nex-T Chimeric Antigen Receptor CAR-T Cells focuses on individuals with severe, Refractory Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body's tissues and organs. Patients with lupus can experience a range of often debilitating symptoms including muscle aching, joint pain and swelling, fatigue, fever and rashes. In severe cases, lupus can damage organs including the brain, kidneys, heart and lungs. The study will explore the efficacy and safety of CAR-T cell therapy, already used in the treatment of cancer, in the treatment of lupus. You can learn more about lupus here and more about CAR-T here.

“CAR-T therapy continues to lead the field in research, representing a pivotal leap forward in our approach to treating patients, especially those facing complex medical challenges,” said Mohamad Cherry, MD, Medical Director, Hematology/Oncology, Atlantic Health System and Medical Director, Atlantic Cellular Therapy Program. “This study is a partnership between our Cellular Therapy Program and other luminaries in our health care system. We hope to collaboratively unlock novel avenues of care that will redefine the landscape of possibilities for these patients and their families.”

Pairing with Dr. Cherry to lead Atlantic Health’s research in this space is Neil Kramer, MD, co-founder of the Institute for Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases (IRAD) at Overlook Medical Center. Dr. Kramer, a rheumatologist at Atlantic Health is the principal investigator on the trial and an expert in the treatment of lupus. Together they are focusing on the crucial role of autoreactive B cells in lupus. The study explores the potential advantages of utilizing CD19-specific CAR T cells to deplete CD19+ B cells. The process involves extracting the patient’s own T cells and using specialized machinery to engineer them to target their own B cells. The goal is to comprehensively eliminate the targeted cells, resulting in disease remission and potentially resetting the immune system back to a state of self-tolerance.

“The opportunity to provide lupus patients with access to this treatment, all while ensuring they receive the highest level of care, is a true testament to the collaboration between the cellular therapy and rheumatology programs,” said Dr. Kramer. “It's not just a treatment; it's a collaboration between innovative science and compassionate care, empowering us to pioneer new horizons in patient well-being.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the trial can visit this dedicated website: A Study of CC-97540 in Participants With Severe, Refractory Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) | BMS Study Connect.

Visit the Atlantic Health System website to learn more about clinical trial research happening across the system.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of 20,000 team members and 5,440 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 14 counties and 7.5 million people. The not-for-profit system offers more than 550 sites of care, including its seven hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton, NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ, Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ, Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute in Madison, NJ and through its partnership with CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold, NJ.

The system includes Atlantic Medical Group, part of a physician enterprise that makes up one of the largest multispecialty practices in New Jersey with more than 1,600 physicians and advance practice providers. Joined with Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners they form part of Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network of more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs through 24 urgent care centers, Atlantic Visiting Nurse and Atlantic Anywhere Virtual Visits. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of six regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system that will expand access to groundbreaking research across five health systems in the region.

Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.