Gene Therapies for Two Blood Cancers Become a Reality

State of the Art Research on Blood Cancers Is Under Way
State of the Art Research on Blood Cancers Is Under Way

2017 was a breakthrough year for cancer treatment. For the first time ever, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two gene therapies for blood cancers that have failed to respond to traditional forms of treatment.

Helping a Patient’s Own Body Fight Cancer

The new treatments are known as CAR-T cell immunotherapy. What’s exciting about these therapies is that they enhance the power of a patient’s own immune system to seek out and kill cancer cells.

T cells are immune system cells responsible for attacking foreign substances in the body. First, a doctor extracts T cells from a patient’s blood sample. The cells are then genetically modified to produce artificial proteins.

These proteins are called chimeric antigen receptors, or CAR, and they have the ability to recognize cancer cells in a patient. Once the modified T cells have been replicated, they’re reintroduced to the patient’s system to find and destroy cancer cells.

An “Explosion of Interest”

Kymriah, manufactured by Novartis, was approved for use with ALL, a form of leukemia that affects children and young adults. Gilead Sciences produces the other gene therapy, called Yescarta, which is used with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

According to Dario Campano, an immunologist involved in the development of Kymriah, the approval of these therapies triggered an “explosion of interest.” Campano expects continued research to lead to greater advancements in the technology.

Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment at Issels®

Issels® has long been a leader in the use of non-toxic, personally tailored cancer treatment programs that harness the power of a patient’s immune system. Contact us to learn more about cancer vaccines and other treatments available at Issels®.