A pioneering CAR-T cell therapy study from Novartis and the University of Pennsylvania demonstrates the impressive potential of the next-generation therapy. Five years after the start of the study, three patients have achieved complete remission and remain cancer-free.
Here it is, the proof that the hype about CAR-T cell therapy was no hollow promise.
Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center and the Perelman School of Medicine developed a CAR-T cell therapy approach called CTL019. It is a patient-specific treatment, in which the T-cells – or the natural serial killer of the immune system – are isolated from the individual and modified with chimeric antigen receptors (CAR’s). These target the CD19 protein on the cancerous B cells in leukemia, helping the immune system to again recognize the cancer . The ‘armed’ T-cells are then given back to the patient.
Interim results of the study were already published in 2011. Back then, three patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) received the therapy. Two of them remained in remission more than a year after the treatment –