CAR T-Cell Therapy & It Works

By Dr. Chirag Jain in Cancer Care / Oncology

Jan 07 , 2019 | 1 min read

Cancer can be a devastating diagnosis for anyone, especially when it strikes young children. B cell lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), is a type of blood cancer, which is very common in the younger age group. Treatment of ALL  has come a long way. From single-agent methotrexate chemotherapy in the 1940s to multi-agent chemotherapy regimens, treatment for this disease has undergone a sea change. Survivals have also increased significantly.

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Challenge now is about 20-30% patients who have relapse refractory disease. CAR T cell therapy is a type of treatment in which a patient's T cells (a type of immune system cell) are changed in the laboratory so they will attack cancer cells.  In the first step, T cells are taken from patient’s blood.
Then the gene for a special receptor that binds to a certain protein on the patient’s cancer cells is added in the laboratory. The special receptor is called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). Large numbers of the CAR T cells are grown in the laboratory and given to the patient by infusion.

Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cells are very effective in treating relapsed and refractory B ALL patients. Efforts are going on to develop these cells in India to bring down the cost. Presently this therapy has FDA approval for ALL and lymphomas.