Is CAR T-Cell Therapy the Long Awaited Cure for Cancer?
No one wants to hear their doctor announce that the test results are positive for cancer. Beyond the shock, the realization of the tough battle ahead can seem very formidable. To make things worse, cancer starts to affect more and more children nowadays. For example, the leukemia rates among children are staggering. Forty three kids are diagnosed with this form of cancer every day in the world. That is a lot of devastated families scanning the horizons for better cures.
There is finally light at the end of the tunnel with the continuing development of so called CAR (Chimeric Antigen Receptor) T-cell therapy. It is currently only used for plasma related cancers, but the science behind the treatment could adjust the cure for all forms of cancer.
What is CAR T-Cell therapy?
The great thing about this therapy is the lack of intimidating heavy equipment used. There are no whirring armatures, alarms and invasive procedures to deal with. They simply remove a few immune cells and soup them up with a few genetic modifications. The cells are trained to hunt down cancer cells and eliminate them. The modified cells are replicated in the billions and placed back in the blood stream. Recent research shows the method is proving successful on many levels.
Ongoing Clinical Trials
The National Cancer Institute, or NCI, began CAR T-cell therapy clinical trials in 2014 to target B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA), which is protein located on myeloma cells. This has allowed targeted treatment for multiple myeloma. Many clinical trials are ongoing and have expanded to include patients with both leukemia and lymphoma.
Current Results of CAR T-Cell Therapy
One Chinese clinical trial is funded by Nanjing Legend Biotech and has a total of 35 participants. Thirty three of them have gone into complete remission, with the remaining two showing signs of improvement. According to trial investigator Wanhong Zhao, M.D., Ph.D., of Xi’an Jiaotong University, recent findings show these patients went into remission after two months of treatment.
The Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Tennessee has also been conducting a clinical trial. About 27 percent of the their patients have responded with complete remission, while the rest are showing a strong positive response. Very few have dealt with bad side effects. Most immune response problems have been dealt with using standard medications.
Immunotherapy in general does show promise as a way of using the fighting power of the individual patient to beat cancer. This revolutionary treatment could take away the toxic drugs that are used in a few popular cancer treatments today and bring about a true solution.