CAR-T therapy, or chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, is a type of immunotherapy that uses genetically engineered T cells to fight cancer. T cells are a type of white blood cell that are part of the body's immune system. They help the body fight infection by identifying and killing harmful cells.
In CAR-T therapy, T cells are taken from the patient's blood and are genetically engineered to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). The CAR is a protein that binds to a specific antigen on the surface of cancer cells. When the CAR binds to the antigen, it sends a signal to the T cell to kill the cancer cell.
CAR-T therapy is currently approved to treat several types of blood cancers, including:
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)
- Hodgkin lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
Here's a general overview of how CAR-T therapies function:
T-cell Collection: T cells are a type of immune cell responsible for recognizing and attacking infected or abnormal cells, including cancer cells. In CAR-T therapy, a patient's T cells are collected from their blood.
Genetic Modification: Once the T cells are collected, they are genetically modified in a laboratory to express a specific receptor known as a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). This receptor enables T cells to recognize and attach to specific proteins (antigens) on the surface of cancer cells.
Cell Multiplication: After being modified, the CAR-T cells are multiplied in the lab to create a large number of cells that can be infused back into the patient.
Infusion: The CAR-T cells are then infused back into the patient, where they seek out and kill cancer cells that express the target antigen.
Immune Response: The modified CAR-T cells can also stimulate the patient's immune system to attack the cancer cells, creating a more robust and targeted immune response.
It is important to note that while CAR-T therapies have been successful in treating certain types of cancers, particularly hematologic malignancies (blood cancers), they are not suitable for all cancer types and patients.