CAR T-cell therapy approved for earlier intervention

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Yescarta CAR T-cell therapy for adult patients whose Large B-cell lymphoma is not responding to initial treatment or that has returned in less than 12 months of first-line chemoimmunotherapy.

Yescarta, one of four CAR T-cell therapies for which the Cancer Institute at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis is an approved site, is the first to receive approval for initial treatment of refractory or relapsed Large B-cell lymphoma.

That is exciting news for patients with this type of blood cancer, says Cancer Center of Kansas oncologist Bassam Mattar, MD. "The earlier in their disease process that patients can receive this therapy the better outcomes we are likely to see," says Dr. Mattar, medical director for Cellular Therapy of Kansas, a collaboration among Cancer Center of Kansas, Ascension Via Christi and the American Red Cross.

Ascension Via Christi is the only provider in Kansas outside the Kansas City metro area to offer this type of immunotherapy that uses a person’s own modified cells to fight cancer.

Last month, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network updated its guidelines to include Yescarta for relapsed disease of less than 12 months or primary refractory diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma as a Category 1 recommendation. Yescarta is the first CAR T-cell therapy to receive such a recommendation.

The other FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapies for which St. Francis is an approved site include:

  • Tecartus, used in treating adults with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma and refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Breyanzi, used in treating relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma
  • Abecma, used in treating refractory multiple myeloma

With these therapies, the patient's T-cells are collected and modified in a lab to produce a chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR, that helps immune cells recognize a certain cancer protein. The T-cells are then expanded and infused back into the patient to find and kill cancer cells with that protein.

"They are 'living' drugs individually manufactured for each patient," says Dr. Mattar. "They truly are the future in the battle with blood and other cancers."