What is CAR T-cell Therapy?

CAR T-cell therapy is a new treatment that uses the patient's own immune system to fight cancer.

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Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR T-cell) therapy is a new approach to fighting cancer using the patient’s own immune system.

Certain immune system cells, called T-cells or T-lymphocytes, are normally able to identify abnormal cells, like cancer cells, and destroy them before they multiply and cause disease. Sometimes, however, T-cells have trouble detecting cancer cells.

CAR T-cell therapy removes T-cells from the blood and inserts a new gene into them to make it easier for the T-cells to fight cancer. The new cells are called CAR T-cells. These CAR T-cells are then infused into the patient to fight cancer.

As of August, 2022 the FDA has approved the following CAR T-cell therapies for patients who relapsed, or did not respond to treatment, after several rounds of chemotherapy:

  • Kymriah® (tisagenlecleucel) for
    • children and young adults (up to 25 years old) with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
    • adults with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)
    • adults with transformed follicular lymphoma
  • Yescarta® (axicabtagene ciloleucel) for adults with
    • diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)
    • primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma
    • high grade B-cell lymphoma
    • diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) arising from follicular lymphoma
    • follicular lymphoma
  • Tecartus® (brexucabtagene autoleucel) for adults with
    • mantle cell lymphoma
    • B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
  • Breyanzi® (lisocabtagene maraleucel; liso-cel) for adults with
    • large B-cell lymphoma (LBCL)
  • Abecma® (idecabtagene vicleucel) for adults with
    • multiple myeloma
  • Carvykti™ (ciltacabtagene autoleucel) for adults with
    • multiple myeloma

The specific CAR T-therapy available to you will vary depending on the medical center where you are receiving treatment. Your insurance plan may limit coverage to specific CAR T-therapies.

Your treatment center may offer you an opportunity to participate in a clinical trial testing a new type of CAR T-cell therapy. Research is underway to determine if patients with other types of cancer such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), Hodgkin lymphoma and some solid tumors can also benefit from CAR T-cell therapy.

Watch this video about CAR T-cell therapy. Click here to read the transcript of this video and download the slides.

NEXT:  Steps Involved in CAR T-cell Therapy

Updated August, 2022