Atlantic Health System Breaks New Ground with CAR-T Cell Therapy for Lupus Treatment

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A groundbreaking phase 1 study using CAR-T cells to treat severe lupus highlights a collaborative effort between the Cellular Therapy Program and rheumatology programs to pioneer innovative patient care.

Atlantic Health System initiated groundbreaking treatment for the first patient nationwide as part of a study evaluating the effectiveness of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR-T) cells in lupus treatment, according to a press release.1

The multicenter, open-label, phase 1 study, CC-97540 (BMS-986353), focuses on individuals with severe, refractory systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Lupus, an autoimmune disease which causes the immune system to attack the body's tissues and organs, commonly presents a range of symptoms, such as fever, rashes, fatigue, muscle aching, and joint pain and swelling. The upcoming study aims to explore the safety and efficacy of CAR-T cell therapy, a revolutionary treatment already in use in cancer care.

Mohamad Cherry, MD, medical director of Hematology/Oncology at Atlantic Health System, emphasized the transformative potential of CAR-T therapy in addressing complex medical challenges: “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. 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.”

The research is a collaborative effort led by Cherry and Neil Kramer, MD, co-founder of the Institute for Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases (IRAD) at Overlook Medical Center.

Kramer, an expert rheumatologist, serves as the principal investigator, focusing on autoreactive B cells in lupus. The study will investigate the advantages of using CD19-specific CAR T cells to deplete CD19+ B cells. This involves extracting the patient's T cells and engineering them to target their own B cells, with the goal of comprehensively eliminating targeted cells, inducing disease remission, and potentially resetting the immune system to a state of self-tolerance.

The collaboration between Atlantic Health's Cellular Therapy Program and the rheumatology programs showcases a holistic approach.

“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,” Kramer stated. “It's not just a treatment; it's a collaboration between innovative science and compassionate care, empowering us to pioneer new horizons in patient wellbeing.”

The study hopes to reflect a shared commitment to unlocking novel avenues of care and redefining possibilities for lupus patients and their families.

Patients and clinicians interested in the trial can learn more by visiting the dedicated website.


  1. Atlantic Health System enrolls first U.S. patient in lupus treatment trial. Atlantic Health System: Hospitals Serving New Jersey & New York. February 8, 2024. Accessed February 16, 2024.