Chimeric Antigen Receptor T (cell), or CAR-T therapy, is part of an emerging and revolutionary new breed of treatments designed to fight cancer by using the patient’s own immune system to attack and destroy the tumors.
“This advanced therapy offers not just hope to patients but possible cures”, said Yasser Khaled, M.D from The Methodist Healthcare Blood and Marrow Transplant Center, the latest addition to a select list of facilities approved to deliver the therapy. “We are excited to now offer this novel therapy to patients in Memphis and the surrounding areas who have acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma”, he went on to say.
The procedure involves collecting T cells – a type of white blood cell, through a simple donation, arming them with genetically designed receptors and then re-infusing them into the patient. A number of cancers can be treated through this method, and while results vary among the different types, in some cases up to 80% of patients see their disease go into remission.
Even more remarkable is the fact that the effects begin to show only a few weeks from the start of the therapy, generally within 30 days.
A few months back, there were only 40 facilities designated to provide this life-saving treatment, but more and more are now receiving accreditation.
Overall, this new procedure offers many advantages over current solutions. It’s highly targetable as it affects only the tumor, compared to chemotherapy and radiation which also damage healthy cells, it spares patients from the serious side effects of these treatments (including fatigue, nausea, hair loss etc) and can protect against possible recurrence.
This is an important moment in the fight against this malignancy, one that could even lead to a potential cure.