In the field of cancer immunotherapy, the goal is to harness the power of one’s own immune system to seek out and destroy tumor cells. During the past few decades, immunotherapy has become an important pillar in the treatment of cancer. One type of immunotherapy that is revolutionizing oncology is CAR T-cells. So far, six CAR T-cell immunotherapies have been approved by the FDA, and five by EMA, for the treatment of various types of cancer including lymphomas.
So how do CAR T-cells work?
Blood is taken from the patient and T-cells are isolated from the sample. The T-cells are genetically engineered to express a tumor-specific CAR (chimeric antigen receptor). The CAR T-cells are grown in a lab, and then returned to the patient where they can bind to and kill tumor cells.
Although CAR T-cell therapies are still in their infancy, the data are promising and show that this technology has the potential to make a long-term impact on patients’ lives.