Terminal Cancer Patients Infused With Engineered T Cells. More than 70% of Patients in Complete Remission in a Clinical Trial

Scientists have revolutionized the treatment of cancer by genetically engineering the cells in the body’s immune system. Genetically engineering T cells to produce a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) is a breakthrough form of treatment that has resulted in complete remission for 73% of patients in a clinical trial published this month. One study, published in Feb 2017, had a response rate of 82%! These are just 2 of the many studies (see below). In 5 steps, I explain how CAR-T scientists achieve these remarkable results.

Source: Kite Pharmaceuticals

T cells are harvested from patient’s blood via leukapheresis, a process that results in the enrichment of White Blood Cells. The rest of the blood is returned back into the body.

car-t

Source: Kite Pharmaceuticals

T cells are isolated, from WBCs, by the use of magnetic beads. These beads are coated with proteins that bind to cell surface markers like CD3, which are only present on T cells. After the cells have been isolated, they are activated by DynaBeads (see below) to activate/proliferate T cells.

Source: Thermo Fisher

When the T cells are activated, they are simultaneously genetically engineered in a laboratory to produce chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) on the surface of the cellular membrane.

The lab exponentially increases the number of engineered T cells. After which, they are sent to the hospital treating the patient.

The patient is infused with the engineered cells. Typically, patients are given chemotherapy before CAR-T cells are administered. The synthetic receptor on the engineered T cells now recognizes cancer cells and initiates signals that lead to tumor decimation.

Source: Kite Pharmaceuticals

Until the T cells have exhausted, the engineered cells remain in the body and guard against Tumor cells. Numerous companies have achieved breakthrough status from the FDA for their drugs to help treat patients in clinical trials. Their ambitions go beyond lymphomas and leukemias, CAR-T companies are racing to find ways to treat solid tumors, tumors in organs like lung, cervical, head and neck.

Source: Kite Pharmaceuticals

Kite has been able to successfully treat patients with Agressive Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL). Their Objective Response Rate (ORR) and Complete Response (CR) are unprecedented in NHL. Though their achievements are sensational, CAR-T therapy has serious side effects. The two main adverse reactions experienced by CAR-T therapy are Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS) and neurological toxicity.  Cerebral Edema, a neurological complication, has resulted in the death of numerous patients receiving CAR-T therapy. However, in Kite’s clinical trials only 1 out of 300 have died due to Cerebral Edema.

Source: Kite Pharmaceuticals

 

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