A new kind of immunotherapy called CAR-T captured attention at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago. CAR-T stands for chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy.
How Does This Therapy Work?
This approach involves removing blood from a cancer patient and modifying the DNA in the T cells that are crucial for immunological responses. Then, doctors re-infuse these modified T cells back into the patient.
How Well Does It Work?
Initial results have been promising against blood cancers such as lymphomas and leukemias. Now investigators have reported on two new studies that have used CAR-T to treat people with multiple myeloma.
The studies are small, but the results are impressive. The volunteers had previously been given standard multiple myeloma treatments but their cancer had gotten worse. After the CAR-T therapy, almost every patient responded.
Many went into complete remission and some are more than a year out of treatment with no sign of disease. One patient, however, had the cancer worsen.
What Are the Side Effects?
Side effects of the therapy include low blood pressure, fever and difficulty breathing as a result of the immune system being overwhelmed. These reactions may require hospitalization but they respond to treatment.
While the results are encouraging, CAR-T is still experimental. Moreover, it must be individually created for each patient, and the cost runs to hundreds of thousands of dollars as a consequence.
ASCO annual meeting, June 5, 2017
To Learn More:
We discussed this as a cutting-edge cancer therapy in Show 1029: How to Mobilize the Immune System to Fight Cancer.