HACKENSACK, N.J. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Mantle cell lymphoma is a rare, aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It’s usually caught at late stages and until very recently, there were very few effective treatments. Now, researchers have found a specialized CAR T-cell therapy that is making a life-saving difference.
Alain Fortier worked with hazardous materials for years. So, he was keenly aware of subtle changes in his body when they started eight years ago.
“I experienced the rash on my arms and a tingling of my lips and a little bit of swelling of my knuckles,” recalled Fortier.
At first, Alain thought maybe he had seasonal allergies. Instead, doctors diagnosed a rare form of blood cancer called mantle cell lymphoma, or MCL. Alain started a rollercoaster of drugs and chemo.
“It was always treatments and scans and visits and ‘no, that didn’t work,’ ‘let’s try something else.’ It was like constant,” shared Alain’s wife, Marie Fortier.
After four failed treatments, Marie searched online and found Dr. Andre Goy and his colleagues were part of the ZUMA-2 trial studying CAR T-cell therapy— removing a patient’s white blood cells and modifying them in a lab.
“It’s a genetically modified lymphocyte that we grow before we infuse. We inject in a patient and then we monitor the patient,” explained Andre Goy, MD, Chair, John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center.
The CAR T-cell therapy is now called Tecartus. Right after Alain’s treated cells were re-infused, he says he felt … lousy.
“Four days later it was like a light switch on and off. My body started feeling much better,” Alain recalled.
For this husband and father of two, there’s now no evidence of cancer; the T-cells continue to work in his system.
“There’s so much research being done with CAR T that no one should ever give up hope,” Alain shared.
After the ZUMA-2 trial was completed, the FDA approved the CAR T-cell therapy, Tecartus, which was formerly known as KTE-X19. Dr. Goy says two-thirds of all the patients had a similar response to Alain’s with no evidence of cancer after the trial.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer & Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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TOPIC: TECARTUS: CURE FOR MANTLE CELL LYMPHOMA?
REPORT: MB #4871
BACKGROUND: Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that can help a person’s immune system fight cancer, infections, and other diseases. Immunotherapy uses white blood cells, organs, and tissues from the lymphatic system. Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy, a treatment that uses material made from living organisms to treat cancer. Immunotherapy drugs have been approved to treat many types of cancer but are not as widely utilized as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Immunotherapy can currently be administered in multiple ways such as through the vein, bladder, a pill, or skin cream. Only a small percentage of people who have used immunotherapy treatments react to the treatment; however researchers are looking for ways to help increase this number as well as have a better understanding of how cancer cells can are able to maneuver around the immune system which could result in the development of new drugs that block those processes.
DIAGNOSING: A person may receive immunotherapy in a doctor’s office, clinic, or outpatient unit in a hospital. Immunotherapy can cause side effects, such as an immune response not only against the cancer but also against healthy cells and tissues within a person’s body. The type of cancer a person has and how advanced it is, and the type of immunotherapy they are receiving, and how a person’s body reacts to the treatment can determine how often and how long a person can receive immunotherapy.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Immunotherapy treatments have been approved in the United States to treat various types of cancers. The use of immunotherapy treatments comes after years of research and testing designed to show the benefits and achievements of these treatments.
Scientists continue to work on ways to determine which patients are likely to respond to these treatments and which are not. As a result, new strategies are being analyzed to expand the number of patients who could benefit from immunotherapy treatments. Immunotherapy is already helping to prolong and save the lives of many cancer patients and in the future, treatments could become more precise, more personalized, and more effective than current cancer treatments.
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