The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a breakthrough cancer therapy known as CAR-T for use in adults with advanced lymphoma. The therapy uses a patient's own white blood cells, which are modified in a lab and re-trained to recognize specific markers on the surface of the cell and then target and kill only those cancerous cells.

"This is truly a living . It's a patient's own cells that are reinfused and go to work fighting cancer," said Samantha Jaglowski, MD, MPH, a hematologist at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), who tested the therapy in clinical trials. "This is really the epitome of personalized medicine."

Clinical trial data showed that more than half of patients who had failed at least two rounds of chemotherapy or a stem cell treatment responded to CAR-T treatment.

"For these patients, the rate of success in the next line of treatment is about 26 percent, and the average overall survival is about six months," said Jaglowski. "But with CAR-T, the response rate is nearly 60 percent, and the average survival rate of those patients is yet to be seen. Patients who have success with this therapy tend to stay in remission."

Jaglowski notes that CAR-T tends to work quickly, with many patients achieving complete remission with a few months and often with fewer side effects than traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.

The OSUCCC – James is the only treatment center in Ohio currently offer CAR-T therapy and is one of only a handful of centers across the country. The therapy was also FDA-approved for a rare type of treatment-resistant childhood leukemia in July.

Credit: The Ohio State University