[There is an] experimental therapy that…could rid [a patient’s] body of cancer entirely. It’s called CAR-T therapy, and it works by engineering the patient’s own immune cells to attack cancer.
One of the hallmarks of CAR-T: It has to nearly kill you if it’s going to save you.
The treatment induces such sudden and severe side effects that it can take a small army of top specialists to keep patients alive while their newly engineered immune systems attack their cancer cells.
CAR-T has so far been tested on hundreds of patients, mostly with blood cancers…Proponents say it’s just about ready for prime time. But it’s still quite early, cautioned Bruce Levine, a gene therapy professor at University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Stephanie Goff…said CAR-T seems to work in about half of patients with lymphomas and leukemias who have run out of other treatment options….
But the side effects…and the enormous amount of expertise it took to manage them…illustrate the risks of expanding the therapy to a broad patient population.
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