Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell Therapy is a form of immunotherapy that uses the body’s immune cells to combat some types of blood cancer. The therapy works by turning T-lymphocytes (T-cells), a type of white blood cell in the immune system, into more efficient cancer-fighting machines. 

Antigens: The intruder cells, viruses, bacteria or more have proteins, called antigens on their surface. 

Receptors: The immune cells also have surface proteins, called receptors that recognise the cells with abnormal antigens. 

The T-cells track these antigens on the surface of intruder cells, including cancer cells and upon recognising any abnormal cells, become active and destroy them. 

How does CAR T-cell Therapy work? 

In CAR T-cell therapy, patient's T-cells are extracted from their body and genetically engineered in the laboratory to form Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs). These artificial receptors are then leveraged to redirect T-cells into the immune system to recognise and target antigens found on specific cancer cells.  

  • Cancer Detection: The accurate type of cancer is detected and in cases of blood cancer, CAR T-cell Therapy is planned.
  • Extraction of T-cells: Patient’s T-cells are extracted from their blood through leukapheresis.
  • Cell Multiplication: The extracted T-cells are then multiplied in the laboratory. 
  • Chimeric Antigen Receptors: The antigen is mixed with some virus and added to the multiplied T Cells. These antigens deposit on the surface of the T-cells and form Chimeric Antigen Receptors(CARs). 
  • Modified T-cells: CARs are designed to recognise the specific proteins on the surface of cancer cells (antigens).
  • Infusion of CAR T-cells in the Patient’s Body: These engineered cells are then injected into the patient’s bloodstream, well capable of recognising and targeting the cancer cells. 
  • Destruction of Cancer Cells:  The T-cells bind to the specific antigens on cancer cells and destroy them.

CAR T-cell therapy is an advanced treatment procedure for some kinds of blood cancer, especially when other treatments fail or when cancer bounces back. Post destruction of cancer cells, the engineered T-cells stay in the body and continue surveillance, offering long-term immunity against specific cancers and reducing their chances of recurrence. 

Why is CAR T-cell Therapy Required?

CAR T treatment can be very effective against some types of cancer, especially when other treatments falter. Currently, CAR T therapy treats several types of haematological malignancies, including:

  • Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
  • Mantle Cell Lymphoma
  • B-cell Lymphomas
  • Multiple Myeloma

Contraindications for CAR T-cell Therapy

CAR T-cell therapy is not for everyone. It is not recommended for people with:

  • Severe underlying medical conditions
  • A weakened immune system
  • Active central nervous system (CNS) disease
  • Certain types of cancer
  • People with underlying cardiac or pulmonary conditions 
  • Infections like HIV 

There could be many other reasons for someone not being suitable for this therapy. Please consult your cancer specialist to know more about your condition and whether you are suitable for CAR T-cell therapy or not.

Speak to Our Health Experts

Get reliable medical advice anytime, anywhere.