CAR T-cell therapy could be the future for leukemia.

Leukemia is a very bad disease. The three year overall survival after relapse is less than 10%.

This therapy re-engineers a patient’s own immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells.

This July, FDA designated CAR T-cell therapy as “breakthrough therapy,” which fast-tracks its path to FDA approval.

Currently there is a new wave of experimental and approved treatments that spur the immune system to fight cancer like it does other illnesses, CAR T-cell therapy falls in that category. Immunotherapy supercharges the immune system and brings a new dimension to attacking a cancer cell.

Immunotherapy dominated talks at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting. Some doctors are calling immunotherapy the pathway to a cure.

This year the FDA has approved two more immunotherapy drugs for the treatment of melanoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

The immune system doesn’t recognize that cancer cells are abnormal because they share traits with healthy cells. Through the clinical trial at Seattle Children’s Hospital, researchers genetically modify a person’s own T-cells to recognize and attack leukemia. T-cells are white blood cells that travel through the body looking for infections and other things.

Fever is a sign that the T-cells are working. However, if doctors are unable to manage the fever, they might have to kill the T-cells with a different drug and end the cancer treatment.

Since 2009 this treatment has been tried on 100 patients. More than 70 have gone into complete remission. Results like this earned the treatment its breakthrough status at the FDA.

Researchers are curious is this therapy could be expanded to more common tumors; early analysis suggests that it could be.


Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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