CAR T-cell therapy is a form of immunotherapy that uses a patient’s own T cells, which are genetically modified to target cancer cells. The therapy involves several steps, including T-cell collection, genetic modification, expansion, and infusion back into the patient. Here is a detailed explanation of each step in the process:
T-cell collection: The first step in CAR T-cell therapy is to collect T cells from the patient. This is typically done through a process called leukapheresis, in which blood is collected from the patient and passed through a machine that separates out the T cells. The T cells are then collected and sent to a laboratory for genetic modification.
Genetic modification: Once the T cells have been collected, they are genetically modified to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) on their surface. This CAR is designed to recognize a specific protein on the surface of cancer cells. The genetic modification is done using a viral vector, which is a modified virus that can deliver the CAR gene into the T cells. The viral vector is carefully engineered to ensure that it does not cause harm to the patient.
Expansion: After the T cells have been genetically modified, they are expanded in the laboratory to increase their numbers. This is done by growing the T cells in a special culture medium that contains cytokines, which are signaling molecules that help the T cells grow and divide. The expansion process typically takes several days.
Infusion: Once the T cells have been expanded, they are infused back into the patient. This is typically done through a vein in the arm. The infused T cells then travel throughout the body, seeking out and destroying cancer cells that express the targeted protein recognized by the CAR.
During the infusion process, patients are closely monitored for any adverse reactions. Some patients may experience side effects, such as fever, chills, low blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. These side effects are typically mild to moderate and can be managed with medications.
In summary, CAR T-cell therapy is a complex process that involves multiple steps, including T-cell collection, genetic modification, expansion, and infusion back into the patient. The therapy has shown promising results in the treatment of certain types of cancer, but it is not without risks. Healthcare professionals who are trained and experienced in administering CAR T-cell therapy should oversee the treatment to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient.