What Is CAR T-Cell Therapy?

Cancer is one of the most significant public health challenges facing the world today. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, with an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. In recent years, researchers have made great strides in developing new cancer therapies, including CAR T-cell therapy. This innovative treatment approach has the potential to revolutionize cancer treatment and improve outcomes for many patients. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what CAR T-cell therapy is, how it works, and why it’s so promising.

What Is CAR T-Cell Therapy?

CAR T-cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy that uses genetically modified T-cells to target and kill cancer cells. T-cells are a type of white blood cell that play a critical role in the body’s immune response. They recognize and attack foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria, as well as abnormal cells such as cancer cells. However, cancer cells can evade the immune system’s detection, allowing them to grow and spread unchecked.

CAR T-cell therapy works by modifying a patient’s T-cells to specifically recognize and attack cancer cells. This is done by engineering the T-cells to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) on their surface. These receptors are designed to bind to specific antigens, or proteins, found on the surface of cancer cells. Once the T-cells are reprogrammed to express CARs, they are infused back into the patient’s body, where they can seek out and destroy cancer cells.

How Does CAR T-Cell Therapy Work?

The process of CAR T-cell therapy can be broken down into several steps. The first step is to collect T-cells from the patient’s blood. These cells are then sent to a laboratory, where they are genetically modified to express CARs. This process involves inserting a gene into the T-cells that codes for the CAR protein. Once the T-cells have been modified, they are multiplied in the laboratory to create a large number of CAR T-cells.

The next step is to prepare the patient for the infusion of CAR T-cells. This typically involves a course of chemotherapy to reduce the number of existing T-cells in the patient’s body. This makes room for the infused CAR T-cells to proliferate and attack cancer cells more effectively.

The CAR T-cells are then infused back into the patient’s body, typically through a vein in the arm. Once inside the body, the CAR T-cells begin to multiply and seek out cancer cells. When a CAR T-cell encounters a cancer cell, the CAR binds to the antigen on the cancer cell’s surface. This triggers the CAR T-cell to release toxic substances that kill the cancer cell.

Why Is CAR T-Cell Therapy So Promising?

CAR T-cell therapy has the potential to be a game-changer in the treatment of cancer. Here are some reasons why:

  1. High Response Rates: Clinical trials of CAR T-cell therapy have shown impressive response rates, with many patients experiencing complete remission of their cancer. In some cases, these responses have been durable, meaning that the cancer has not returned for an extended period of time.
  2. Targeted Therapy: CAR T-cell therapy is highly specific to the cancer cells that express the target antigen. This means that healthy cells are largely spared from the toxic effects of the treatment, which can lead to fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.
  3. Potential for Personalization: CAR T-cell therapy can be tailored to each patient’s individual cancer. By selecting antigens that are specific to a patient’s cancer