About the CVPF

The Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility (CVPF) renders bench-to-bedside translational medicine a reality. Equipped with state of the art facilities, the CVPF manufactures cell and gene biotherapeutics and has been accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) since 2008. As a shared resource within the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies (CCI) and the Division of Transfusion Medicine & Therapeutic Pathology within the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, the CVPF supports numerous investigational new drug (IND) protocols. Current protocols target a variety of disease indications (primarily HIV, adult and pediatric cancers, and stroke); many more trials are in development and, once approved, will further expand the scope of diseases targeted for cell and gene therapy. For more information on current trials, see our Clinical Trials page.
  • Recent Publication
    The CVPF is excited to announce an article recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine.


    Tisagenlecleucel in Children and Young Adults with B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia

    Shannon L. Maude, M.D., Ph.D., Theodore W. Laetsch, M.D., Jochen Buechner, M.D., Ph.D., Susana Rives, M.D., Ph.D., Michael Boyer, M.D., Henrique Bittencourt, M.D., Ph.D., Peter Bader, M.D., Michael R. Verneris, M.D., Heather E. Stefanski, M.D., Ph.D., Gary D. Myers, M.D., Muna Qayed, M.D., Barbara De Moerloose, M.D., Ph.D., Hidefumi Hiramatsu, M.D., Ph.D., Krysta Schlis, M.D., Kara L. Davis, D.O., Paul L. Martin, M.D., Ph.D., Eneida R. Nemecek, M.D., Gregory A. Yanik, M.D., Christina Peters, M.D., Andre Baruchel, M.D., et al.


    In a single-center phase 1–2a study, the anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy tisagenlecleucel produced high rates of complete remission and was associated with serious but mainly reversible toxic effects in children and young adults with relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

    We conducted a phase 2, single-cohort, 25-center, global study of tisagenlecleucel in pediatric and young adult patients with CD19+ relapsed or refractory B-cell ALL. The primary end point was the overall remission rate (the rate of complete remission or complete remission with incomplete hematologic recovery) within 3 months.

    For this planned analysis, 75 patients received an infusion of tisagenlecleucel and could be evaluated for efficacy. The overall remission rate within 3 months was 81%, with all patients who had a response to treatment found to be negative for minimal residual disease, as assessed by means of flow cytometry. The rates of event-free survival and overall survival were 73% (95% confidence interval [CI], 60 to 82) and 90% (95% CI, 81 to 95), respectively, at 6 months and 50% (95% CI, 35 to 64) and 76% (95% CI, 63 to 86) at 12 months. The median duration of remission was not reached. Persistence of tisagenlecleucel in the blood was observed for as long as 20 months. Grade 3 or 4 adverse events that were suspected to be related to tisagenlecleucel occurred in 73% of patients. The cytokine release syndrome occurred in 77% of patients, 48% of whom received tocilizumab. Neurologic events occurred in 40% of patients and were managed with supportive care, and no cerebral edema was reported.

    In this global study of CAR T-cell therapy, a single infusion of tisagenlecleucel provided durable remission with long-term persistence in pediatric and young adult patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell ALL, with transient high-grade toxic effects. (Funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02435849.)

  • Recent Publication
    The CVPF is excited to announce an article recently published in Scientific American.

    Cancer Killers
    Avery D. Posey, Jr, Carl H. June and Bruce L. Levine
    Cancer Killers
    Photo Credit: James Yang

    In Brief

    Some advanced cancers can now be successfully treated by synthetic immune cells that are more powerful and longer-lasting than any found in the body.

    • Synthetic immune cells, known as chimeric antigen receptor T, or CAR T, cells have proved remarkably effective at treating leukemia and lymphoma.
    • CAR T cells boost and enhance the body's ability to fight malignant cells. But they can trigger unwanted side effects and, in some cases, death.
    • Researchers are now designing new CAR T cells they hope will treat other forms of cancer and cause fewer deleterious side effects.

  • Stand Up To Cancer 2016 Broadcast Event

  • Recent Publication
    The CVPF is excited to announce an article recently published in Nature Reviews Cancer.


    Engineered T cells: the promise and challenges of cancer immunotherapy

    Andrew D. Fesnak, Carl H. June & Bruce L. Levine


    The immune system evolved to distinguish non-self from self to protect the organism. As cancer is derived from our own cells, immune responses to dysregulated cell growth present a unique challenge. This is compounded by mechanisms of immune evasion and immunosuppression that develop in the tumour microenvironment. The modern genetic toolbox enables the adoptive transfer of engineered T cells to create enhanced anticancer immune functions where natural cancer-specific immune responses have failed. Genetically engineered T cells, so-called 'living drugs', represent a new paradigm in anticancer therapy. Recent clinical trials using T cells engineered to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) or engineered T cell receptors (TCRs) have produced stunning results in patients with relapsed or refractory haematological malignancies. In this Review we describe some of the most recent and promising advances in engineered T cell therapy with a particular emphasis on what the next generation of T cell therapy is likely to entail.

  • Vice President Joe Biden’s tweet after his visit to Penn Medicine on January 15, 2016:
    "I'm more optimistic than I've ever been in my life." -- VP Biden at @PennMedicine #CancerMoonshot

Key CVPF Personnel

Don Siegel, M.D., Ph.D., CVPF Director
Andrew Fesnak, M.D., Cell Manufacturing Development Director
Suzette Arostegui, Quality Assurance Director
Theresa Anne Colligon, Operations Director
Kurt Buchholz, Facilities Director
Anne Lamontagne, Technical Director
Bruce Levine, Ph.D., Founding Director and CCI Deputy
Director of Technology Innovation and Assessment