Skip to Content

And Just Like That, Juno Therapeutics Is Back in Business

Despite three deaths, a trial for a powerful cancer treatment has been cleared to resume.

In a rapid turnaround, biotech firm Juno Therapeutics has been given the green light to resume testing a promising cancer therapy that involves genetically engineering patients’ immune systems.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered Juno to halt its trial of the treatment after three patients died. The company said the deaths were not the result of the immune cells, which are modified outside the body before being injected back into a patient, but of a toxic reaction to a preconditioning drug used as part of the treatment. That compound, fludarabine, has been removed from the protocol.

Juno’s stock rebounded on the news, after it had plunged 30 percent last week when the trial was stopped. Whether the company will be able to beat competitors Kite Pharma and Novartis to market remains to be seen. Juno had been planning on seeking FDA approval in 2017.

Initial trials for Juno’s therapy, known as CAR-T, have produced remarkable results in patients with recurrent acute lymphoblastic leukemia—about eight in 10 patients saw their tumors disappear. But the treatment is risky, so the tests have been limited to patients facing long odds of survival.

(Read more: Endpoints, “Unexpected Deaths Put Promising Immunotherapy on Hold,” “Gene Therapy’s First Out-and-Out Cure Is Here,” “Biotech’s Coming Cancer Cure”)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024

Every year, we look for promising technologies poised to have a real impact on the world. Here are the advances that we think matter most right now.

The worst technology failures of 2023

The Titan submersible, lab-grown chicken, and GM’s wayward Cruise robotaxis made our annual list of the worst in tech.

AI for everything: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT reached mass adoption in record time, and reset the course of an entire industry.

Scientists are finding signals of long covid in blood. They could lead to new treatments.

Faults in a certain part of the immune system might be at the root of some long covid cases, new research suggests.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.