Search and destroy.
Cancer cells make themselves invisible to T cells and this is what allows them to thrive. CAR T-cell therapies make it possible to detect the undetectable in blood cancers by adding chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) to a patient’s existing T cells. Once inside T cells, CARs find and bind to specific protein molecules that exist in blood cancer cells. After they’re bound together, the genetically engineered T cells are able to destroy the cancer cells in the same way that they destroy other disease-causing cells.
One objective: kill cancer cells.
After T cells are removed from a patient’s bloodstream, they are genetically engineered in a lab, grown in large numbers and returned to that patient’s bloodstream. Unlike traditional cancer treatments (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation), there are few if any harsh or long-term side effects.
After being infused back into a patient’s bloodstream, reprogrammed T cells continue to multiply and become living medicine that strengthens that patient’s immune system’s response to cancer. Today, approved CAR T-cell therapies are achieving 80 percent effective rates in patients with certain blood cancers.
More information is available about CAR T-cell therapy on our Additional Resources page.
For patients interested in CAR T-cell therapy to treat their cancer, please visit this resource for a directory of all medical institutions offering at least one FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapy to patients.