Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells (CAR-T Cells) are part of the body’s immune system that has been altered to fight cancer. T cells are taken from a patient then genetically engineered to put CARs on the surface of the cells before multiplying the cells in the lab. After freezing, shipping, and thawing, they are reintroduced into the patient’s bloodstream. This process is called immunotherapy or, specifically, CAR-T therapy.
One of the emerging adoptive cell transfer (ACT) immunotherapies, CAR-T therapy has been clinically developed more extensively than TILs or TCRs. These cells are considered a living drug that may also prevent reoccurrence of cancers like some adult lymphomas and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children and young adults.
CAR-T therapy is FDA approved in the following trademarks:
Tisagenlecleucel has been approved for patients up to 25 years old with some cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Axicabtagene ciloleucel is approved for adults with certain large B-cell lymphomas. In young children two and older up to adults, Tocilizumab is approved to treat cytokine release syndrome (CRS) induced by CAR-T cells.
While potentially life-saving, there are also side effects to treatment using CAR-T cells.
Most of these side effects can be treated with pharmaceuticals or can be allowed to abate on their own. However, the benefits can far outweigh potential side effects when the disease being treated is life-threatening.
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