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Oncology Breakthrough: Life-Saving CAR T-Cell Therapy Now Available

Jersey Shore University Medical CenterJohn Theurer Cancer CenterJoseph M. Sanzari Children's HospitalOncology

What you need to know

Hackensack Meridian Health is at the forefront of advanced cancer treatment in New Jersey and the nation.

Two sites, the John Theurer Cancer Center (JTCC), and Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital, are the first in New Jersey certified to offer chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy to patients.

The details

The FDA has approved CAR T-cell therapy for two diseases:

How does it work?

The first step is to remove the patient’s T cells from other components of the blood, through apheresis. The T cells are then genetically modified by using a disarmed virus that produces the CAR protein, which enables the T cells to recognize and attach to certain targets on cancer cells.

Dr. Andre Goy

“This is a game-changer,” says Dr. Andre Goy, Chairman and Director of JTCC, and co-author of the study that led to FDA approval of one of the two CAR T-cell therapies now in use.

These CAR T-cells are then grown to larger quantities and infused back into the patient, where the they can find, bind to, and kill cancer cells.

“CAR T-cell therapy gives new hope to patients for whom all other treatments have stopped working,” Goy says. “ It’s the biggest breakthrough in cancer therapy in 30 years.”

CAR T-Cell Research by HMH

In a pivotal New England Journal of Medicine study co-authored by Dr. Goy, CAR T-cell therapy achieved an 82 percent response in patients with B-cell lymphoma who had failed conventional therapies. More than half of the patients had a complete response.

In a separate study, the therapy achieved an 85 percent remission rate in pediatric ALL patients, with a 53 percent to 58 percent complete response rate.

Researchers are now investigating the use of CAR T-cell therapy in other cancers of the blood. Goy says he’s hopeful the therapy will also be effective in treating solid tumors.