A team of researchers, led by one an Indian origin, have successfully developed a breakthrough cancer treatment where the patient’s immune system is genetically engineered to fight cancer cells. The treatment involves the CD19-targeting chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, which was approved most recently, for patients dealing with aggressive large B-cell lymphoma, blood cancer, who did not gain much from chemotherapy and stem cell transplant.In order to fight cancer, T-cells collected from patients are sent to the lab where genitival modification of the same takes place to include a gene will instruct the T-cells to kill the cancer cells. After this, millions of such genetically modified cells are then infused in the patient.
“With the US Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of this therapy, we believe this is a major advance in the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma and is likely to save or prolong lives of many patients,” said Sattva Neelapu, professor at The University of Texas.
Results of the same were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and showed that 42% of the patients with an aggressive B-cell lymphoma stayed in remission at 15 months following treatment with “axi-cel” marketed as Yescarta.
The results published in New England Journal of Medicine revealed that of the 111 patients with aggressive large B-cell lymphoma in 22 centres all over US, 42% patients continued to stay in remission for a period of 15 months followed by a treatment with with “axi-cel” marketed as Yescarta.
After these ‘hunter’ cells are infused in the body of the patient, they multiply and attack the cells with the protein CD19. The same hunter cells can then grow over 10000 cells which increases their remission rate, further being able to survive in the body for longer years.
“This study demonstrated that axi-cel provides remarkable improvement in outcomes over existing therapies for these patients who have no curative options,” Neelapu added.
Director of the Loyola University in Chicago Patrick Stiff, however, gave a word of caution here. Stiff explained that where this therapy could help in curing the patients, it could also lead to potent side effects. Therefore, doctors must inform patients about the potential pros and cons of this therapy if it is considered as an option for treatment.