Immunotherapy is fast becoming a promising treatment for cancer. By using patients’ own immune cells to treat cancer, doctors can avoid using damaging radiation or chemotherapies.
Cancer is a group of diseases in which cells divide abnormally quickly and invade other bodily tissues. Because cancer stems from mutations within a patient’s own cells rather than from a foreign pathogen, treating it can be extremely challenging. Traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy, are quite effective at destroying cancerous cells, but healthy cells are often collateral damage. For this reason, researchers have long sought additional treatment options.
In chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy, doctors remove T-cells from a patient, genetically engineer them to recognize and kill cancer cells, and then reintroduce them into the patient where they do their work. So far, the clinical trials of CAR-T therapy have been promising.
CAR-T therapies received FDA approval for the treatment of Mantle Cell Lymphoma in July of 2020. In this new treatment, the patient’s T-cells are genetically modified to include a gene that allows them to more easily target and kill lymphoma cells.