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CAR T Cell Therapy Surges Forward

October 16, 2014

A new article published today in the New England Journal of Medicine summarizes the latest progress being made with an experimental immunotherapy that uses a patient’s own T cells as powerful weapons against cancer. The treatment, called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, is being developed at the University of Pennsylvania under the leadership of CRI Scientific Advisory Council member Carl H. June, M.D.

Emily WhiteheadA total of 30 children and adults with advanced acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) received the immunotherapy, which targets a molecule on leukemia cells called CD19. Complete responses were seen in 27 of 30 patients (90%), with 23 patients surviving at least 6 months, and 19 remaining in complete remission. 

The exciting results, which were featured in today’s New York Times, are the latest in a string of positive reports about a technique that is proving to be a lifesaving cure for some patients, including young Emily Whitehead (right), whose inspiring story we have featured previously.

In addition to work at Penn, the Cancer Research Institute is also funding research on CARs at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, and the University of California, San Francisco.

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*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.