CAR T therapy recipients cancer-free after a decade, researchers find

Two early recipients of CAR T-cell therapy — who had chronic lymphocytic leukemia at the time of treatment — remain cancer-free a decade later, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia reported Feb. 2. 

"Now we can finally say the word 'cure' with CAR T-cells," Carl June, MD, principal investigator of the trial at UPenn, told The New York Times. 

In addition to the cancer being gone, findings from the trial that began in 2010 showed detectable chimeric antigen receptor T-cells — or CAR T-cells — remained in the patients' bloodstreams. The findings were published in Nature

"This long-term remission is remarkable, and witnessing patients living cancer-free is a testament to the tremendous potency of this 'living drug' that works effectively against cancer cells," said J. Joseph Melenhorst, PhD, study author and research professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at UPenn.

CAR T-cell therapy is a form of immunotherapy in which a patient's T-cells are altered in the lab so they will attack cancer cells. The therapy has been effective against other leukemias and lymphomas, while those with chronic lymphocytic leukemia have seen less success, according to the Times. Scientists also plan to expand research on how the treatment may affect solid tumors. 

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