Normally within the human body, T cells are assigned the task to detect and fight threatening bacteria or viruses. T cells guard and protect our immune system. Cancer cells are a different story. Cancer cells are sneaky. They duplicate and move around the body in a stealthy manner causing problems and havoc. Unfortunately for the immune system, T cells are not always able to detect cancer cells.

In the past, there were many challenges treating certain types of blood and bone marrow cancers including leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.

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This is where CAR T-cell therapy can step in and change the immune system paradigm.

Here’s how it works. The first step is to retrieve regular T cells from the patient or a selected donor. The patient or donor’s blood sample goes to a lab. The T cells are then separated from the blood. A unique receptor that binds to certain proteins on cancer cell surfaces is added to the T cells. This imported receptor is called the chimeric antigen receptor or CAR. These new and improved T cells are administered back into the body like a blood transfusion.

Once the CAR T cells enter the body, they can destroy cancerous cells including tumors. The good news is that these modified CAR T cells will not affect healthy cells. It’s a win-win situation.

In 2017, the Moffitt Malignant Hematology & Cellular Therapy program was established in partnership with Memorial Healthcare System. Oncologists now have more options to treat blood and bone marrow cancer patients. Medical professionals can also conduct research that can benefit both newly diagnosed and relapsed blood cancer patients.

Malignant Hematology & Cellular Therapy at Memorial Healthcare System, located on the campus of Memorial Hospital West, is the only facility in Broward and Palm Beach counties to offer this array of unique services and cancer treatments.

“We’re always looking to provide our community the most innovative and highest quality healthcare available anywhere,” says Memorial Hospital West CEO Vedner Guerrier, “and this advancement with our partners at Moffitt does that for cancer patients.”

CAR T-cell therapy should be considered for different types of cancer:

•Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

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•Mantle cell lymphoma

•Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

•Multiple myeloma

•Follicular lymphoma

•Transformed follicular lymphoma

•Primary mediastinal B cell lymphoma

“We see 70-80 new multiple myeloma cases each year and more than 300 with relapse disease so, while not every patient will be a CAR T candidate, we’re hoping many more will be as progress continues,” said Dr. Claudia Paba Prada, an assistant member of Moffitt Malignant Hematology and Cellular Therapy at Memorial Healthcare System. “We’re using drugs under research that aren’t available anywhere else in Florida.”

Immunotherapy may be used to give stem-cell transplants or maintain a better quality of life for patients who aren’t transplant candidates. CAR T-cell therapy can replace or be used as a supplement for chemotherapy. This means the possibility for less toxins in the body during cancer treatment. In the future new forms of immunotherapies will help patients win the fight against cancer.

For more information, visit https://www.mhs.net/services/cancer/types/leukemia-lymphoma.

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Content provided by Memorial Healthcare System