CAR T-cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy that uses genetically modified T-cells, a type of white blood cell, to treat certain types of cancer. This type of therapy is specific to individual patients, and hijacks their own immune system to destroy cancer cells. The naïve T-cells are first collected from a patient’s blood and then modified in a laboratory to include a special receptor called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). This CAR is specific to the patient’s cancer, as it recognizes a specific target protein of interest, that is only expressed on the surface of the patient specific cancer cells. This allows the CAR T-cells to recognize and attack cancer cells expressing the specific protein or antigen, while avoiding healthy cells. One of the main advantages of CAR T-cell therapy is its ability to train the immune system to target cancer cells specifically, rather than damaging healthy cells like traditional chemotherapy and radiation treatments. This leads to fewer side effects than other forms of cancer treatment, as it uses the body’s own defenses to fight cancer.
A representative image of synapse formation between Raji and Jurkat cells. (DAPI in blue, Cell Tracker in green, Phalloidin in red, and ICAM in grey.)
How It Works
The process of CAR T-cell therapy begins with the collection of T-cells from the patient’s blood. These T-cells are then provided to a laboratory, where they are modified to include the CAR specific to the patient’s cancer. These CAR T-cells can take between 9 days to several weeks to be developed, depending on the type of engineering process utilized. Once the modified T-cells are ready, they are infused back into the patient’s bloodstream through an IV. After the T-cells are infused, they begin to multiply; they bind to the surface antigens of the cancer cells and attack the abnormal cells. This can lead to a temporary, but severe immune reaction called cytokine release syndrome (CRS), which can cause fever, nausea, and difficulty breathing. CRS is usually managed with medications and can be severe in some cases. Another potential side effect of CAR T-cell therapy is neurotoxicity, which can cause symptoms such as confusion, difficulty speaking, and tremors. Neurotoxicity can also be managed with medications and usually goes away after treatment.
There are currently several CAR T-cell therapies that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of certain types of cancer, including leukemia and lymphoma. These therapies have shown promising results in clinical trials and have helped many patients achieve long-term remission. One of the main challenges of CAR T-cell therapy is that it is a complex and expensive process. The cost of the treatment can range from hundreds of thousands to over a million dollars, depending on the specific therapy and the patient’s insurance coverage. Additionally, not all patients are eligible for CAR T-cell therapy due to certain medical conditions or the severity of their cancer. Despite these challenges, CAR T-cell therapy is a promising treatment option for patients with certain types of cancer. It is an exciting area of research and development, and scientists are continuing to work to improve the effectiveness and accessibility of CAR T-cell therapies.
Work With Visikol
CAR T-cell therapy is just one of the cutting-edge cancer treatments that is currently being researched in the field of immuno-oncology. Visikol is working to advance the development of immunotherapies by offering clients a variety of services and assays to further their immunological research. Pertinent T-cell-based assays currently offered by Visikol include Cell Mediated Cytotoxicity/Effector Function, Immune Cell Infiltration, Immune Synapse Formation, and Antibody Penetration. Also available through Visikol are a variety of multiplex imaging approaches for histological analysis, including histological staining, fluorescent multiplex imaging, and Imaging Mass Cytometry (IMC). Contact us to work with our Visikol team to identify the best assay and model for your specific research wants and needs.