CAR-T, or Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell therapy. Cancer treatment is becoming less about the type of cancer and its location in the body and more about what’s inside – deep inside – cancer cells that are causing them to misbehave. Changing that bad behavior by sparking the immune system to fight back is the aim of an exciting novel cancer treatment breakthrough, a form of immunotherapy called CAR-T.
CAR-T, or Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell therapy, is a personalized therapy that involves engineering a patient’s own immune system’s blood cells – arming the cells – to attack cancer cells. During the complicated procedure, doctors remove some of the patient’s T-cells, a type of white blood cells, then shipped to a cryogenic chamber to be genetically reprogrammed to identify and attack cancer. Weeks later, doctors then infuse the re-engineered cells back into the patient’s body.
Sounds like science fiction.
But it’s now a treatment reality for some patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the most common and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Currently, CAR-T may be available to adult DLBCL patients who have not responded to two or more standard therapy types.
Because CAR-T’s side effects can be serious and can include fever and low blood pressure, specially trained medical teams are in place to monitor patients carefully. Early results suggest that CAR-T is one of the most potent therapies ever tested for DLBCL cancer patients.
The Food and Drug Administration first approved the new CAR-T therapy in 2017 for specific lymphoma types and leukemia after its promising results during clinical trials.
Earlier this year, Texas Oncology–Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer, in collaboration with Baylor University Medical Center, became the second facility in the state to provide groundbreaking FDA-approved CAR-T therapy for DLBCL cancer. That collaboration also has included numerous clinical trials to test CAR-T therapy.
CAR-T is an example of innovative and promising medical advancements following extensive clinical trials. Research continues, including at Texas Oncology, to examine the new therapy’s effectiveness for other forms of cancer. Through research and patient participation in trials, oncologists are rapidly discovering dramatically better ways to treat, diagnose, and prevent even the most aggressive forms of cancer.