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Today’s Most Promising Cancer Treatment Advancement: CAR-T Therapy

July 01, 2019

Always on patrol, the human immune system stands ready to launch a counter-attack on infection and disease that threatens health. Yet, some diseases – like cancer – can go undetected when misbehaving cells effectively "hide" from the body's immune system and thwart its natural response. Considered to be the next frontier in cancer treatment, immunotherapy harnesses the body's immune system, allowing it to pack a super punch against foreign invaders. Researchers are unlocking the cellular secrets behind cancer to create promising discoveries in immunotherapy, including the latest advancement, CAR-T therapy.

How CAR-T Therapy Works

Chimeric antigen receptor – T cell (CAR-T) therapy, is one of the most promising treatment breakthroughs in recent years. It uses genetically engineered immune T cells to recognize specific proteins on tumor cells.

First, some of a patient’s white blood cells are extracted, modified, and replicated so that they recognize and attack cancer cells. These cells are then infused back into the patient. These “attacker” cells will recognize and kill cancerous cells and help guard against recurrence.

The process can take several weeks to several months. CAR-T therapy typically requires an in-patient hospital stay to manage potential treatment side effects and ensure the best possible outcome.

Cancers Treated by CAR-T

To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two forms of CAR-T cell therapy. Patients with either relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, or acute lymphocytic leukemia, and who have failed two or more types of therapy, may be eligible for treatment with CAR-T therapy.

Looking forward, Texas Oncology–Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center is conducting multiple clinical trials to test CAR-T therapies for several other types of cancer, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, acute lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, pancreatic cancer, and others.

CAR-T at Texas Oncology

Texas Oncology is one of only a few oncology teams in the nation that has been certified to provide this leading-edge treatment. Through collaborations with Baylor University Medical Center and Medical City Dallas Hospital, the treatment is offered at two Dallas area locations – Texas Oncology–Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center and Texas Oncology–Medical City Dallas. Patients who are eligible for CAR-T treatment and who live outside the Dallas area may be able to access CAR-T treatment experts for consultation via telemedicine, in conjunction with a local Texas Oncology physician in the patient’s community.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.