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CAR T-Cell Therapy is a ‘Revolution in Cancer Immunotherapy’

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September 10, 2020

Three CAR T-Cell Therapies Have FDA Approval

  • Chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR T-cell) therapy is a novel immunotherapy in which T lymphocytes are engineered with synthetic receptors
  • This therapy is a ‘paradigm-changing’ approach to the treatment of hematologic cancers
  • CAR T-cell therapies axicabtagene ciloleucel, tisagenlecleucel-T, and brexucabtagene autoleucel have produced promising responses in clinical trials
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Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is “paradigm changing,” Dr. Siddhartha Ganguly, deputy director of hematologic malignancies and cellular therapeutics at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, tells SurvivorNet Connect. “CAR T is a revolution in cancer immunotherapy.”

This treatment has ushered in a new era of therapy for our blood cancer patients. Axicabtagene ciloleucel and tisagenlecleucel-T were the first CAR T-cell therapies to be FDA-approved for lymphoma. They were followed by the approval of brexucabtagene autoleucel in July 2020 for the treatment of advanced mantle cell lymphoma.

CAR T-cell therapies genetically modify a patient’s own lymphocytes to recognize and kill cancer cells throughout the body. The process involves removing these cells via leukapheresis, inserting an anti-cancer gene, and infusing them back into the patient. Dr. Ganguly likens the modified immune cells to Pac Man from the video game, going after cancer cells that bear a particular surface marker, or antigen. “Those CAR T-cells release toxins called chemokines. They will attack those cancer cells directly and lead to the killing of the cancer cells,” he says.