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Hunting Down Cancer Cells

By Susan J. White


Immunotherapy is playing a growing role in the successful treatment of a broad array of cancers by using the body’s own immune system to hunt down and fight cancer cells.

Cancer cell, CAR t-cell (lymphocyte) and red blood cells on red background. vector Poster about immunotherapy or chemotherapy cancer.NorthShore recently added CAR-T to its treatment options for lymphoma patients. Led by hematologist David Grinblatt, MD, CAR-T cell-treatment program for lymphoma patients is one of the first non-university based programs in the state. The promising FDA-approved therapy is the best new option for patients with relapsed or refractory lymphoma.

CAR-T therapy involves chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) genetically modified T-cells (a type of white blood cell) that are designed to recognize specific antigens on tumor cells, which then activate and proliferate to destroy malignant cells. The patient’s own immune cells are collected by a process similar to dialysis, engineered to fight the lymphoma cells and then given back to the patient.

“This is an important move forward for patients whose disease was not responsive to other treatments,” said Dr. Grinblatt.

Millions of CAR-T cells are put back into the patients’ body in a single infusion. While it is a complex treatment, the procedure is similar to an autologous stem cell transplant, which NorthShore has been performing for decades and already has an expert infrastructure in place to collect cells and transfer them for engineering.

Like many of the advanced treatments offered by NorthShore’s Kellogg Cancer Center, the CAR-T cell treatment involves a multi-disciplinary and collaborative team approach, said Dr. Grinblatt. Many immunotherapy treatments have not only proven effective in improving outcomes for patients, they also often come without some of the toxic side effects of chemotherapy.

For more information about cancer treatments, click this link to learn more about the Kellogg Cancer Center or call 847.570.2112.