What does the process involve?
CAR T-Cell therapy uses a patient's own white blood cells (T-cells) to recognize and kill cancerous cells. Through genetic engineering, the white blood cells are able to recognize specific antigens located on tumor cells.
The T-cells are first taken from the blood of the patient (or donor) through a process called apheresis. Next, in a highly specialized laboratory, millions of CAR T-cells are grown and modified in preparation for infusion back into the patient. At Winship, we are able to reengineer the cells in our own facility.
Who is eligible?
Currently, CAR T-cell therapy is approved by the FDA for:
- Adults with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma (and have completed at least four previous treatments).
- Adults with relapsed or refractory B-cell lymphomas, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, and follicular lymphoma.
- Adults and children with relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Winship is one of the select few institutions in the United States to offer all FDA-approved commercial products. Although these are all effective, there may be a reason that one option is chosen over others for a specific patient. You will have the opportunity to discuss with your care team the appropriateness of each CAR T-cell therapy option at your consultation.
What are the potential side effects?
CAR-T cell therapy is associated with several potential toxicities, including cytokine release syndrome and neurologic toxicity. These can be life threatening and require management at a specialized center. Patients completing CAR T-cell therapy at Winship will be monitored closely for several weeks either as an inpatient or by staying close to our campus. Longer-term toxicities that may require ongoing management include cytopenias and hypogammaglobulinemia.
What do clinical trials offer?
Clinical trials of CAR T-cell therapy are underway at Winship aimed at making the process safer and more effective. Most types of CAR T-Cell therapy use a patient's own white blood cells (T-cells) to recognize and kill cancerous cells. There are other investigations that use "off the shelf" T-cell products. Winship also offers trials of new products with additional disease eligibility criteria. New CAR T-cell approaches are also being evaluated and developed in laboratories here at Winship.
Consider talking with your doctor about participating in a clinical trial at Winship. Through these trials, you may have access to treatments that are not widely available.