Published on November 9, 2017
Advanced research has brought forth the emerging immunotherapies, like CAR T-cell therapy, which use a patient’s own immune system to fight their myeloma. How does it work? What should patients be aware of when considering this procedure? Tune in to hear Dr. Frits van Rhee from The UAMS Myeloma Institute explain this innovative treatment.
This town meeting is sponsored by Amgen, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Takeda Oncology. It is produced by Patient Power in partnership with the UAMS Myeloma Institute.
Transcript | What Patients Should Know About CAR T-Cell Therapy
Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.
Dr. van Rhee, one of the things that we hear about in the news is this thing called CAR T-cell therapy. What is that, and why is it a big deal?
Dr. van Rhee:
This is the type of therapy where you take the patient’s immune cells, and you genetically change them to target specifically the tumor. So these are very exciting therapies which particularly seem to be working well in acute leukemia. There are also some problems attached with these therapies. Sometimes patients get quite sick after infusion, even to the extent that they get organ failure or neurological abnormalities.
So there is toxicity associated with it. Also, not everybody responds to this particular treatment. So it’s very early on. It’s very exciting, but we need to learn better how to use this therapy, how to get everybody to respond, and how to control the side effects.
The other thing to realize with this therapy that you actually need to take cells from the patient. They need to go to a laboratory. They need to go through a genetic modification process, and then we send back. So it’s not a typical off-the-shelf therapy. It’s not like taking a drug from pharmacy and injecting it. This is a rather complex process. So although it’s undoubtedly a very exciting and innovative therapy; one it needs to be improved; secondly, there are some logistical issues with it.
And there is, for instance, a lot of interest in what are called bispecific antibodies—an antibody with two hands with which the one hand grabs a cancer cell and with the other hand grabs and activates a T cell, an in-cell and gets them together.
It’s another way of getting activated immune cells specifically to the tumor. That’s also a very interesting type of therapy. And that therapy is potentially off the shelves, because the antibody can sit in a vile in the pharmacy, and you can order it and readily infuse it. So there are a lot of exciting developments going on, but it’s not like we’re going to treat everybody with CAR T cells next year with myeloma. It’s more reserved at this moment in time for a very difficult refractory disease.