CAR T-Cell Therapy - the "Living Drug"
- CAR T-Cell therapy involves removing a patient’s T cells, genetically modifying them to fight cancer, and then injecting them back in
- After the T cells have been extracted and genetically modified, a patient will usually receive about three days of chemotherapy
- The therapy is being tested for use in other types of non-Hodkin’s lymphoma, as well as in Hodgkin lymphoma and in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
The promising treatment, which is essentially a “living drug” — or one made from fully functional cells — involves removing a patient’s T cells from their body, genetically modifying them to fight cancer, and then injecting them back in.Read More
How Does CAR T-Cell Therapy Work?During CAR T-cell therapy, a patient’s T cells are extracted from the body, then sent out to a pharmaceutical company and modified genetically with something called a vector. The vector helps the cancerous tumor cells to attach to the T cells, which Dr. Vose describes as having been “woken up to help recognize the cancer cells a little bit more and then to fight it.”
After the T cells have been extracted and genetically modified, a patient undergoing CAR T-cell therapy will usually receive about three days of chemotherapy. The chemo is given not to attack the cancer cells, but to get rid of the damaged immune system to make way for the new T cells to come in and do their job.
After that immune system has been wiped clean with the chemo, the patient then receives an infusion of their own genetically modified T cells.
Dr. Vose points out that after the treatment, patients face the possibility of experiencing serious side effects. For this reason, many patients undergoing CAR T-cell therapy will need to be closely monitored for a number of weeks or months.
Can Patients with Other Types of Lymphoma Benefit from CAR T-Cell Therapy?
CAR T-Cell therapy is being tested in clinical trials for use in other types of non-Hodkin’s lymphoma, as well as in Hodgkin lymphoma and in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Some of these trials are in very early stages, meaning it could be a number of years before CAR T-cell therapy, if proven effective, will be available for these other cancers.
So far, says Dr. Vose, the clinical trials show promise.