As a leader in cellular therapy, Franciscan Health is one of two programs in the state of Indiana to offer CAR T-Cell therapy to treat large B-cell lymphoma and has been involved extensively in this clinical research initiative since the first clinical trial was offered at Franciscan Health Indiana Blood & Marrow Transplant Program in 2017.
What is CAR T-Cell Therapy?
CAR T-Cell therapy enlists a patient’s immune system to fight cancer; it is a new targeted individualized immunotherapy that has been FDA approved for use with large B-cell lymphoma. It is different than other cancer medicines, because it is made from the patient's own blood cells, which will have been modified to recognize and attack the lymphoma cells.
Once a patient is identified as a qualified candidate for CAR T-Cell therapy, a Blood and Marrow transplant specialist will draw blood from the patient in order to extract the T-cells, the immune system’s white blood cells essential in fighting infection. The T-Cells are then genetically modified to produce chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) on their surface, enabling them to recognize and attack a toxin unique to the cancerous B-cells, preserving the healthy cells. Once this modification is successful, the T-cells are multiplied in a laboratory before being put back into the patient’s body via infusion. The altered cells live in the body to recognize and attack the lymphoma cells for long-term cancer defense.
Qualifying for CAR T-Cell therapy
Everyone has T-cells, a type of white blood cell that has the job of targeting and destroying bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. However, with certain types of B-cell cancers, T-cells may not be able to do their job properly. People with large B-cell lymphoma may qualify for CAR T-cell therapy which is used when at least two other types of treatments have failed. Patients who have relapsed and have an insufficient response to all other treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplants, are eligible for CAR T-Cell therapy.
Other CAR T-Cell therapy clinical trials
Franciscan Health has one of the largest research programs in Indiana, offering patients access to clinical trials without the wait of a large academic center. Additional trials are available for CAR T-cell therapy to treat multiple myeloma and sarcoma, with research expanding into looking at the therapy to use in other cancer types.