Whether it’s a sniffle or the flu, we’ve all had to rely on our immune system – that network of special cells, proteins, tissues and organs that make up our body’s first defense – to keep us healthy. Now, thanks to a new therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration, some cancer patients may be able to harness their immune systems to combat blood cancers like leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma.
The therapy, called CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T-Cell, genetically reboots a patient’s immune cells to eradicate cancer, and has resulted in two FDA-approved treatments to date: the first, named Yescarta, has been approved for adults diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma who have undergone two regimens of failed chemotherapy; the second treatment, named Kymriah, targets Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in children and young adults.
How it works
CAR T-Cell is different from other biological therapies, because it provides each patient with a unique treatment strategy by harnessing their immune cells to fight cancer.
During the treatment process:
- White blood cells in the immune system called T-Cells are drawn from a patient’s blood
- The T-Cells are reprogrammed in a special facility to produce chimeric antigen receptors (CARs)
- These CARs enable the T-Cells to recognize and attack cancerous cells
- The CAR T-Cells are reinfused in the patient, where they multiply and fight the cancerous cells
Both CAR T-Cell treatments, Kymriah and Yescarta, will be administered in transplant centers accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT). Sarah Cannon, the cancer institute of HCA Healthcare, has six programs in communities across the U.S. that will offer this exciting new treatment option.
Other CAR T-Cell applications
Researchers are also exploring the impact of CAR T-Cell therapy on breast and lung cancer, which could potentially result in a powerful treatment option for an even larger population of patients.
Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, offers integrated cancer services with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for those facing cancer in communities across the United States and United Kingdom.