James L. Ferrara, MD
The FDA’s recent approval of tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah) as the first chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell Therapy, marks a new era in oncology.
Ferrara, a professor of hematology and medical oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, discussed the significance of the FDA approving tisagenlecleucel as the first CAR T-cell therapy.
OncLive: Can you please provide some background on this CAR T-cell therapy?
This is a therapy for relapsed leukemia. If a type of leukemia does not respond to chemotherapy, which happens around 25% of the time, it’s very unlikely to completely respond to chemotherapy again. When we treat leukemia, it goes through different stages, like intensification and then maintenance. We use these different chemotherapy strategies to have many ways of poisoning the cancer cell, but cancer cells can become resistant to chemotherapy. Usually, the only therapy that works is bone marrow transplantation from a different donor where you have this part of immunotherapy called graft-versus-leukemia effects. If you relapse after bone marrow transplantation, you’re very likely to die because nothing has worked.
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