A 62 years old man with a NHL (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) has come to a complete remission after a few months of treatment with a new gene therapy. He was one of the 101 participants in a trial of a new gene based Treatment managed by the US pharmaceutical company — Kite Pharma.
The new treatment — called CAR-T — has been tested on 101 patients with different kinds of lymphoma for a period of 6 months. According to the study — around 36 per cent of the participants have come to a complete remission and the rest 8 out of 10 patients have had their cancer significantly decreased. CAR-T is a so called adoptive cell therapy — it boosts patient’s own immune cells to attack cancer. First of all, immune cells have to be removed from the patient’s body — to enhance the T-cells and help them recognise and engage with cancer. The cells are then genetically modified in the lab to recognize a particular antigen usually found on lymphoma cells, before being infused back into the patient at the treatment center. The best part about CAR-T cells is that they stay in the patient’s body for a longer period of time, even after the remission — this way guarding the patients against cancer recurring.
However, there are still more researches to be done, before the treatment can be publicly available. As not all of the side effects are known — especially long term ones. During the trial, some of the patients had minor health problems that disappeared after a while, but 13 per cent of the participants have had their immune system overreacting — endangering their health and lives. 2 people died during the trial presumably from the treatment, rather than their disease.