“So CAR-T cell treatments are one of the newest approaches to cancer treatment. It’s a part of a field and a movement called immunooncology. Essentially we’re using immune system cells from the patient themselves and take them out of the body or ex-vivo, engineer them, expose them to the antigens or the markers that the tumor cells have expressed. And by doing that, you teach them to go find those tumor cells once they reenter the body and you reintroduce them or re-inject them like heat-seeking missiles. So they travel through the body, traverse through the tissue, find those tumor cells and kill them. Now it’s proven to be very effective using T-cells, a particular kind of immune system cell, and being used currently in practice in types of leukemia and multiple myeloma. But there are dozens of other indications currently under study and exploration. It’s an extremely exciting time for this area.
But it doesn’t stop there. There are other immune system cells like macrophages and many others that are under investigation as well in clinical trials across the country and across the globe, to figure out if they can effectively be taught the same way outside of the body and then reintroduced. One persistent question that has emerged is where should these cells be taught to become killers and heat seeking missiles? Should it be done at the institution and using the institution’s own science where the patient is being treated, or should it be done using off the shelf materials that could be manufactured by a central manufacturer or a typical pharmaceutical company? That’s still an ongoing debate and we’ll see how it ends up and plays out over the years, but either way, this is an exciting new time for patients and I think a much more effective body of therapies for them to choose from.”