According to results of several presentations at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) therapies appear to have significant anti-cancer activity among patients with different types of lymphomas. This type of treatment is continuing to produce impressive results, and is demonstrating effectiveness in several different types of cancers.

CAR therapies utilize T-cells (CART T), a patient’s own immune cells that are re-programmed to recognize and kill cancer cells throughout the body.  The process involves the removal of some T cells from a patient, and through laboratory processes, these T cells are re-programmed to identify a patient’s cancer cells.

Once the T cells have been programmed to identify a patient’s cancer cells, they are replicated in the laboratory, and infused back into the patient.  These re-programmed T cells circulate throughout the body, identifying the cancer cells and mounting an immune attack against them.  Simultaneously, the T cells are replicating within the body, so that more of the immune cells can identify and attack the cancer cells.

One trial evaluating the effectiveness of CAR T cell therapy included 22 patients with different types of advanced B-cell lymphomas that had progressed following prior therapies.  All patients received chemotherapy prior to a single infusion of the CAR T cells.

  • Of 19 patients who had different subtypes of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), 8 achieved a complete disappearance of their cancer; 5 achieved a partial disappearance of their cancer; 2 achieved disease stabilization; and 4 experienced a progression of their disease.
  • Of the 2 patients with follicular lymphoma, and the single patient with mantle cell lymphoma, all achieved a complete disappearance of their cancer.
  • As of the last data collection, the duration of anti-cancer responses ranges between 1 to 20 months; 10 anti-cancer responses are currently ongoing.
  • The most common side effects were neurologic.

The authors of the study concluded that “CAR T cells can induce remissions of advanced B-cell lymphoma when administered after low-dose chemotherapy. In the near future, CAR T cells will likely be a standard therapy for lymphoma.”

Reference: Kochenderfer J, Somerville R, Lu T, et al. Anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T cells preceded by low-dose chemotherapy to induce remissions of advanced lymphoma. Proceedings from the 2016 annual ASCO meeting. Late-breaking abstract #3010. Available at: Accessed June 16, 2016.

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