Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy uses new technology to genetically modify a patient’s own T cells, enabling them to seek and destroy cancer cells. T cells are a type of white blood cell integral to the immune system.
As the only facility in Arkansas offering an adult Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy program, the highly trained physicians and other health care professionals at UAMS are uniquely qualified to provide this complex procedure for patients with certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
CAR T-cell therapy was approved by the FDA in 2017 for patients with certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma who have failed at least two other types of treatment. It has been shown in clinical trials to help 51% of patients achieve complete remission.
This is how it works:
• The patient’s T cells are extracted using a process known as apheresis. During this process, the blood is drawn from the patient and entered into a machine that separates its components, including the T cells.
• The T cells are sent to a lab where they are genetically modified using a virus that causes them to produce chimeric antigen receptors (CAR), which have the ability to detect and kill cancer cells.
• While the T cells are being altered, the patient undergoes chemotherapy. After nine days, the re-engineered T cells are reintroduced into the patient’s bloodstream, and within one week they begin attacking the cancer.
While CAR T-cell therapy is life-saving for many people, it is not effective for everyone. Most patients also experience side effects, which may be severe and include flu-like symptoms.