CAR T-cell therapy — using the immune system to destroy cancer
While surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy remain the most common treatments for cancer today, we’re discovering new, and more effective, ways to treat cancer at a faster pace than at any time in our history. Now, CAR T-cell therapy has the potential to transform how cancer patients are treated in Canada and around the world.
What is CAR T-cell therapy?
One of these newer treatments is CAR T-cell therapy. CAR-T therapy is an emerging biotherapeutic treatment that harnesses the power of a patient’s own immune cells, known as T-cells, to treat their cancer. CAR T-cell therapy is used for some types of leukemia and lymphoma, which are blood cancers.
CAR T-cell therapy involves removing the patient’s T-cells and genetically engineering them with a disarmed virus to produce synthetic molecules called “chimeric antigen receptors” (CAR). These new CAR T-cells are then injected back into the patient so they can target and attack the cancer.
CAR T-cell therapy is considered a “living therapy” or “living drug” because once the cells are reinfused into the patient, they typically keep multiplying and fighting the cancer. Because of this, most patients only need one CAR T-cell treatment!
What is the future of CAR T-cell therapy?
CAR T-cell therapy is complex when it comes to both the production and the delivery. Ontario is building capacity for CAR T-cell therapy, but for now, only a limited number of patients can be treated.
Fortunately, researchers like our very own Dr. Natasha Kekre are working hard to build a Canadian CAR T-cell platform so more Canadians can access this revolutionary therapy.
When you support The Ottawa Hospital, you support the future of cancer care in Canada.