In a groundbreaking clinical trial, a 66-year-old Ohio woman became the first patient to become cancer free through the CAR T Cell Therapy. In August this year, Denise Kennan had participated in the cancer treatment trial at the Seidman Cancer Center in University Hospitals of Cleveland; following which 30 days later the doctors said that there was no trace of any cancer in her, who had been battling with the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma since 2009.
In essence, CAR T Cell Therapy is a new methodology of cancer treatment that involves a patient’s T-Cells, which are a type of immune cells, are changed in the laboratory to bind them to cancer cells for killing them.
Speaking in simple terms, the CART T Cell methodology involves taking blood from a vein in patient’s arm to an apheresis machine, which removes the white blood cells, including T cells, and sends rest of the blood back to the patient. Then, the gene for a special receptor called the Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) is inserted into the T cells in the laboratory. Like that millions of CAR T cells are grown in the laboratory and then are given to the patient by infusion. The CAR T cells are able to bind to an antigen on the cancer cells and kill them.
On the other side, this is not only a very complex treatment procedure with life-threatening toxicities but also is difficult to administer the therapy safely. Toxicity has to be managed with the utmost care. At the same time, administering the therapy to young and fit patients can be extremely effective. But, it is still unclear how older patients will respond to the treatment. Moreover, it may not always be possible to generate sufficient T cells in patients who were already pre-treated. Also, the costs involved in CAR T cell therapy is substantial.