Currently approved CAR-T cell therapy is an individualized treatment designed specifically for each patient.
CAR-T cell therapy is a cutting-edge immunotherapy that uses specifically altered cells from your immune system to fight cancer in your blood. Currently, CAR-T is approved for patients with certain blood cancers.
The information on this page is designed to help you understand what CAR-T cell therapy is, how it works, and who may be able to benefit from this innovative immunotherapy.
CAR-T Cell Therapy
Certain types of blood cancers, like some forms of leukemia and lymphoma, develop when B cells become cancerous, grow and spread. A new type of immunotherapy called CAR-T cell therapy harnesses the power of a patient’s T cells to fight and destroy cancer.
CAR stands for chimeric antigen receptor. A CAR is a receptor that is introduced to patients’ T cells to recognize specific characteristics on cancer cells. When a CAR is added to the patient’s T cells, they become CAR-T cells. These reprogrammed cells are able to specifically target certain molecules on cancer cells and destroy them.
|T cells are collected from the patient’s blood.|
|T cells are reprogrammed in a lab with all of the information needed for them to have a CAR on their surface. The reprogrammed T cells can now produce CARs on their own, and are multiplied in the lab.|
|CAR-T cells are injected back into the patient and begin detecting and destroying the cancer.|
What are B cells and T cells?
The immune system defends the body from infection. B cells and T cells, also called lymphocytes, are a key part of the immune system. Their mission is to fight specific infections and remember them in order to protect the body during future attacks.
T cells recognize foreign particles in the body, fight them, and even recruit additional cells to fight (including B cells).
B cells are defenders of the body. They fight against foreign particles by releasing antibodies (small particles that bind to the infected cell and destroy it). Sometimes B cells may start growing out of control and become cancerous, as in the case of B cell cancers such as ALL and DLBCL.
T cells and B cells fight cancer cells in the same way they fight infections; however, cancer cells are sometimes able to hide and avoid them. In some cases, T cells and B cells can behave abnormally and be the source of the cancer themselves (like in the case of ALL and DLBCL).