Instead of using dendritic cells, CAR-T-cell therapy is an immunotherapy that creates a vaccine out of a patient’s T cells. T cells are a special type of pathogen killing white blood cell. The FDA approved CAR-T-cell therapy in October 2017 for use with various blood related cancers. Many hope this therapy will be effective in treating blood related cancers in children.
CAR-T-cell therapy genetically modifies a receptor on a T-cell that will allow it to recognize and attach to a specific antigen or protein on the surface of a cancer cell. An unfortunate aspect of this approach is that they have to destroy much of the patient’s normal T-cells before they administer the vaccine. The injection is preceded by a lymopho-depleting chemo regimen. The side effects can be serious. According to the American Cancer Society’s web page on “CAR T-cell Side Effects,”
Serious side effects can include very high fevers and dangerously low blood pressure in the days after it’s given. Other serious side effects include neurotoxicity or changes in the brain that cause confusion, seizures, or severe headaches. Some patients have also developed serious infections, low blood cell counts and a weakened immune system. These side effects can be life threatening . . . .”
So this is where the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on cancer research over the last fifty years have gotten us.