Jefferson University Hospitals

CAR-T Immunotherapy for Cancer

Cancer immunotherapy with chimeric antigen receptor T-cells, or CAR-T, is FDA-approved for patients with two kinds of blood cancers, adult B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Called a “living drug” for its ability to continue to fight traces of cancer for years after treatment, the CAR-T therapy comes from the patient’s own T-cells, which are modified to recognize and destroy the cancer.

What Does CAR-T Therapy Involve?

Unlike stem cell transplants using donors, this treatment uses your own cells, making it less likely they will be rejected by your immune system. Once our specialists collect your white blood cells, they will modify them in a lab. They do this by introducing the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) into your immune cells, which lets your cells bind to markers on the surface of certain types of cancer cells. After this modification process, which may take a few weeks, the cells are returned to the hospital, and you will receive an infusion of these CAR-T cells at the appropriate time.

Other treatments can take weeks or months to complete, CAR-T therapy is usually a one-time infusion of T-cells. You may experience severe flu-like symptoms within several days as the CAR-T cells attack the bulk of cancer cells. We ask all our patients to stay within one-hour travel time of the treating hospital in the event the reaction is too strong and you require medication administered by your care team.

Although these are the only two FDA-approved indications for CAR-T therapy, researchers are testing this approach in clinical trials for other cancer types.

patient experience

(1) When initiating treatment, a patient’s T-cells are removed by leukapheresis and taken to an external lab. (2) There, the DNA encoding the CAR receptor is inserted into patient cells, transforming them into CAR-T cells. (3)These cells are grown up to large numbers, and (4) returned to the patient for infusion. (5) Transforming the patient’s own cells into cancer-killers ensures the body won’t reject the cells before they can do their work and allow the CAR-T cells to prevent cancer recurrence for years.

Why Choose Jefferson for Car-T Therapy?

The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center - Jefferson Health is a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center. The NCI applies this special designation only to regional referral centers with a high level of clinical services and participation in national clinical trials . This special status as a national center testifies to the work of our basic and clinical scientists and physician researchers, who are on the forefront of advances against cancer.

Patient and Family Support

At Jefferson, we provide you and your family a support network that includes specially trained nurses, social workers, educators, fellow patients and cancer survivors. Visit our Welcome and Support Center to learn more about our programs and services.

Schedule an Appointment

Call 1-800-JEFF-NOW (1-800-533-3669) to speak with a JEFF NOW® representative who will schedule an appointment for you.