Cellular Immunotherapy to Treat Leukemia and Lymphomas was listed #3 on the Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2017. Now, an FDA panel recently recommended the approval of a brand new cancer treatment which alters the patients' cells into a living drug to fight the disease. If accepted by the FDA, this will be the first drug of its kind to reach market.
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies represent a type of immunotherapy where patient’s immune system T-cells are removed and genetically reprogrammed to seek and destroy tumor cells. These CAR T-cells are grown in a laboratory and sent back to the patient to be infused into the patient following chemotherapy. The cells then behave as immune system cells should. They seek out antigens, multiply, attack and kill the foreign cancer cells. The new cells often also stay in the body to minimize any chances of relapse.
While the FDA does not have to abide by the committee's recommendation, they usually do, which would usher in a new era of caring for children with cancer. The one-time treatment answers an unmet need for patients who do not respond to standard treatment.
To learn more, read these articles from the New York Times, NPR, and FierceBiotech.