June is National Cancer Survivors Month. For Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT), it’s an opportunity to celebrate stories of survivorship involving trailblazing patients who have received cell and gene therapy to treat their cancer diagnosis.
Cell and gene therapy is an emerging type of cancer treatment where the patient’s immune system is reprogrammed to better search for and destroy cancer cells, all while minimizing the damage to healthy tissue. This type of treatment has made enormous strides in the last decade and is showing remarkable results beyond cancer “standard of care” treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
The FDA has approved seven cell and gene therapies for cancer, and there have been a growing number of patients to benefit from cell and gene therapies. Some are even considered “cured” of cancer thanks to these transformative treatment options.
You can read several patient stories who have received cell and gene therapies for their cancer on the ACGT website.
Cancer cell and gene therapy is being used more often throughout the country and the world. As of June 2022, according to Fierce Pharma, there are more than 1,000 cell and gene therapy clinical trials underway globally. Here we highlight a few more stories of patient survival from cell and gene therapy.
Lymphoma patient helps lead to FDA approval of CAR T-cell therapy
Note: This story was originally published on the University of Colorado Anschutz website. You can read the full story here.
After Katherine Haug was diagnosed with large B-cell lymphoma in 2019, she received standard immunochemotherapy treatment. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Rather than try a second round of this treatment, Katherine elected to participate in a CAR T-cell therapy clinical trial at the University of Colorado Anschutz. She said she wanted to be part of something “bigger than herself.”
CAR T-cell therapy is a type of cell and gene therapy that genetically alters a patient’s own immune cells to destroy cancer cells more effectively. Doctors remove a patients’ T cells and add a receptor to link with proteins highly expressed on cells of a specific cancer before reinfusing them back into the patient to help destroy the cancer.
Katherine’s unselfishness was rewarded. A few weeks after receiving CAR T-cell treatment, Katherine got the news: Her lymphoma was in remission.
“Go live your life,” Manali Kamdar, MD, told Katherine, “and I’ll see you in a year.”
The trial was a success, and it played an important role in the eventual FDA approval of the CAR T-cell therapy Breyanzi as a second-line treatment for this blood cancer. Many other patients can now benefit from this cell and gene therapy thanks to Katherine.
CAR T-cell therapy stops ‘one of the worst cases’ of lymphoma
Note: This story was originally published on the University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center website. You can read the complete article here.
Marcus Humphrey was diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma in December of 2021. His disease was resistant to two rounds of chemotherapy and “growing with each relapse,” said Brian Hess, MD, of the University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center.
Dr. Hess called it “one of the worst cases” of lymphoma he had ever seen.
This led to Marcus trying CAR T-cell therapy in May of 2022. A year after the treatment, he is still in remission.
He and his wife are now planning a five-month trip to Europe, something they once thought would not be possible.
“It was pretty amazing for all of us to hear their vacation plans,” Dr. Hess said. “Not too long ago, he was close to a hospice conversation. Now he is taking every advantage possible to live life to the fullest. This is the goal for all patients receiving CAR-T – to give them their life back as it was prior to (cancer).”
CAR T-cell therapy helps patient defeat multiple myeloma
Note: This story was originally published on The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center website. You can read the full article here.
Myrna Youmans was diagnosed in 2014 with smoldering myeloma, which is a precursor to multiple myeloma. She completed her first round of chemotherapy in early 2016 and received a stem cell transplant later that year.
After a couple of years being in remission, Myrna’s cancer returned. She received the earlier treatments once again, but the disease kept coming back.
This is when her doctor at MD Anderson recommended the CAR T-cell therapy Abecma, which had been approved by the FDA as a fifth-line treatment for multiple myeloma. She had a CAR T-cell therapy infusion in April of 2022 and has been in remission ever since.
“I was a little weak at first, and had to move around kind of carefully,” Myrna said in the article. “But I had my strength back within a few months, and now I feel totally normal.”
Share your cancer survival story involving cell and gene therapy
Now is your chance to participate in ACGT’s celebration of National Cancer Survivors Month. If you, or someone you know, has received cell and gene therapy for cancer, we invite you to share your experience with us.
Whether you are the patient whose cancer is in remission thanks to CAR T-cell therapy, the loved one of a patient, or a medical professional who treated a patient with cell and gene therapy, your story can inspire others. You’ll also help us raise awareness of cell and gene therapy and empower patients to learn more.
Please email our Communications Manager, Devin Golden, at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and the details of your cancer survivor story.