Orlando Health Cancer Institute has added CAR T-cell therapy as a new option for treating advanced blood cancers.

CAR T-cell therapy is an immunotherapy that works by harnessing the power of a patient’s immune system to attack tumors. Treatment begins with the collection of the patient’s T-cells, which help protect the body from infection. The T-cells are then sent to a laboratory, where they are genetically re-engineered to produce proteins on their surface called chimeric antigen receptors. The new T-cells are reproduced by the millions in preparation for infusion back into the patient.

Once infused into the patient, the T-cells continue to multiply and are guided by their new receptors to attack and kill cancer cells.

“Cancer treatment has changed dramatically, and CAR T-cell therapy is one of the transformative, new options we have to help patients with advanced forms of leukemia and lymphoma,” says Yasser Khaled, MD, medical director of the Orlando Health Cancer Institute Bone Marrow Transplant & Cellular Therapy program. “This and other immunotherapies we’re using here at Orlando Health are allowing us to usher an exciting, new era of cancer treatment featuring medicines that are customized to each patient.”

CAR T-cell therapy was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2017. Six therapies have been developed since then and approved for treatment of blood cancers, including lymphomas, some forms of leukemia, and, most recently, multiple myeloma.