MADISON, Wis. – UW Carbone Cancer Center will begin treating adults with a “living drug” that employs their own immune cells to fight a common type of aggressive blood cancer.
Adults with diffuse, large B-cell lymphoma that has not responded to or has relapsed after at least two other kinds of treatment may be eligible for this immunotherapy, which uses chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells.
“I am so pleased that we have been approved to offer this cutting-edge treatment to our patients, especially since Carbone physician-scientists helped take this technology from the lab to the cancer clinic,’’ says Dr. Howard Bailey, director of the UW Carbone Cancer Center.
Patients have T-cells removed from their blood and sent to a lab where they are altered to produce proteins (CARs) on the surface of the cells. These receptors help the T-cells identify and attack cancer cells. The “super-charged” T-cells are multiplied and grown, then frozen and shipped back to University Hospital, where they are infused back into the patient’s blood.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the therapy in October 2017 and UW has just received certification from the company that owns the CAR-T process for DLBC lymphoma, known as Axi-cel or by the brand name YESCARTA™.
UW Carbone’s pediatric cancer doctors have already been treating children and young adults with relapsed acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) with a similar treatment called Kymriah™ that also uses CAR T-cells. UW’s “pediatric cancer dream team,” aided by its clinical stem cell lab, took part in the clinical trials that helped that treatment win FDA approval in August 2017.