ShareThis Page

Cancer treatment wins FDA approval

| Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 11:43 a.m.

An FDA advisory panel has approved a first-of-its-kind cancer treatment that has shown remarkable results in treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Known as CAR-T cell therapy, or gene therapy, the treatment put more than 80 percent of clinical trial patients in full remission. It is also being tested for the treatment of other blood cancers such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and multiple myeloma. CAR-T cell therapy could win full FDA approval by the end of September. Dr. Cyrus Khan, an Allegheny Health Network oncologist, provides more details below.

Why is this such a significant development?

The clinical trials utilizing this kind of therapy have shown unprecedented results in various forms of blood cancers despite the patients having very advanced and refractory forms of the disease. The treatment has the potential to keep on working for many years after one infusion.

What is the process for treating a patient with CAR-T cell therapy?

In a nutshell, the patient's own T-cells (a form of white blood cells the immune system uses to fight infections and cancers) are collected and modified in the lab by adding to them very specific receptors that make them capable of recognizing and binding to the patient's specific cancer. These cells are then grown and expanded and re-infused into the patient where they immediately go to work in finding and killing off the cancer.

Are there any downsides to the treatment?

Yes, some, including a side effect known as cytokine release syndrome. The therapy's immune-system boost releases chemicals that cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to symptoms ranging from mild, flu-like effects to severe problems such as low blood pressure, organ damage. brain swelling and seizures.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.