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CAR T-Cell Therapy: Could It Be Used to Treat Prostate Cancer?

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Published on March 5, 2018

Can cells be genetically engineered to fight cancer? Does CAR T-cell therapy have a role in prostate cancer treatment? Watch now to find out from prostate cancer expert, Dr. Tomasz Beer from OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, the current state of this immunotherapy, how it works, and what conditions it’s used to treat.

This is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power in partnership with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. We thank Astellas and Sanofi for their support.

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Transcript | CAR T-Cell Therapy: Could It Be Used to Treat Prostate Cancer?

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.

Jeff Folloder:

So let’s talk a little bit about adoptive cell therapy and CAR T cells because CAR T cells are also in the news a lot right now. I hope I say this correctly: chimeric antigen receptor. Did I get it?

Dr. Beer:          

Yes.

Jeff Folloder:   

Outstanding. What is happening with those? They’re in the news a lot, and even the stock market is taking a broad look at CAR T-cell therapy now. What’s happening?

Dr. Beer:          

Well, it’s another – and very fascinating—form of immune therapy where we—and, by “we,” I mean the field, not me personally—we use genetic engineering or biologic modification tools to take a patient’s T cells, which are key immune cells that are responsible—if they’re working correctly—for killing cancer.

Jeff Folloder:   

So, they’re the terminators of the blood system.

Dr. Beer:          

Exactly. And, we essentially force them to recognize a particular cancer antigen, and then we’re able to put them back into the patient and send them to work. Just in the last month-and-a-half or so, the first two CAR T-cell therapies were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They’re not for prostate cancer, they’re for hematologic malignancies.

And I think it’s important for the audience to know that these are exciting and very promising new drugs, but they do work one antigen at a time, and they’re unlikely to be the magic solution for everything. And therapy with these cells is very toxic. It is routine for people to end up in an intensive care unit for a week or 10 days before their body recovers. There’s almost an immune storm.

So this is a long way from that vision that you articulated of a quick vaccine and you’re done, but it is a new avenue, and it has produced remarkable results, particularly in some kids with hematologic malignancy. So I think your vision of different paths for everybody is the right vision, and I think CAR T cells will be a part of that path for some people.

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.

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