Could the revolutionary CAR-T cancer therapy cause more cancer?

Could the revolutionary CAR-T cancer therapy cause more cancer?

Over the past few decades, scientists have finally learned to use the immune system to successfully treat cancer. For image representation.

In the last few decades, scientists have finally learned to use the immune system to treat cancer. Image for representation. | Photo Credit: Freepik

Over the past few decades scientists have finally learned that use the immune system To successfully treat cancerAlthough doctors often use immunotherapy drugs, another type of treatment uses the patient's own cells to treat their own cancer.

CAR-T therapy, short for “chimeric antigen receptor T-cell,” is a cutting-edge treatment that reprograms a patient's immune cells to fight their cancer. This innovative approach involves taking T-cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in the immune system, from the patient and modifying them in the laboratory to better recognize and attack cancer cells.

These improved T-cells are then multiplied and put back into the patient's body, where they seek out and destroy cancer cells. Very Of data Studies show that patients with lymphoma, a type of cancer that is difficult to treat, may do better.

In November 2023, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced an investigation into this popular cancer treatment. They were looking at whether CAR-T therapy could cause cancer New cancer In Some? Patients who had passed TreatmentThis was a significant concern, as this therapy had a reputation as a revolutionary anti-cancer strategy.

Initially, the FDA reported that it had seen 20 cases in which patients developed new immune-cell cancers, such as lymphoma or leukemia, which are types of blood cell cancers, after receiving Car-T therapy. This raised questions about who these patients were, how many such cases there were, and what other treatments they may have received before Car-T therapy.

As of March 2024, the FDA had documented 33 such cases out of approximately 30,000 treated patients. As a result, all Car-T treatments now carry a boxed warning about the potential risk of developing secondary cancers. The European Medicines Agency has also begun its own investigation into the matter. Case,

Despite these concerns, it is still unclear whether the new cancers are caused directly by CAR-T cells or whether other factors are involved. It is also important to note that these cancers are very rare – as data published this month shows Shows,

Many cancer treatments carry a risk of secondary malignancies and certainly a risk of cancer returning. And patients receiving CAR-T therapy often have had multiple other treatments as well that can increase the risk. Researchers are now working to find out whether CAR-T therapy is a contributing factor or the primary cause of these new cancers.

CAR-T therapy was initially used for patients who had no other treatment options, but it has since been approved as a second-line treatment for certain types of blood cancers, such as lymphoma and cancer. multiple myelomaScientists are also considering the possibilities of its treatment. Solid Tumors It is difficult to treat brain cancer, Autoimmune diseases, Ageing, HIV and other terms and conditions.

The process of creating CAR-T cells involves using viruses to insert new genetic material into T-cells. These viruses, called retroviruses, are engineered to carry the gene for the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) into the T-cells.

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Although these retroviruses are modified to make them safer, there is always a risk that the new genetic material could disrupt other important genes and potentially cause cancer – a phenomenon known as “insertional mutagenesis”. This means that new genetic material is inserted into a virus. Room,

This risk is not new. About 20 years ago, gene therapy treatments for severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome using a similar retrovirus caused leukemia in some people. PatientsAs a result, scientists have worked to improve the safety of these viral vectors. The FDA now requires intensive testing to ensure that the viruses used in CAR-T therapy cannot replicate and cause harm.

Despite these findings, the most important thing is that secondary cancers are rare and these cell therapies could have huge benefits for very sick people.

A new review of patients treated with CAR-T therapy at various centers found that only a small percentage developed secondary cancers, and most of those were not types directly linked to the cancer. CAR-T TreatmentThis suggests that although there is a risk, it is relatively low compared to the immediate threat posed by the patient's existing cancer.

Medical professionals now tell patients about the possible but rare risk of secondary cancers when discussing CAR-T therapy. For most patients, especially those with advanced cancer, the potential benefits of CAR-T therapy far outweigh these risks.

As mentioned, CAR-T therapy is also being tested for applications other than cancer. For example, it has shown promising results in cancer treatment. autoimmune diseases like lupus and even preventing organ transplants DeclineThe potential uses of CAR-T cells continue to grow, raising hopes for treating a wide range of diseases.

Finally, while the risk of secondary cancers from CAR-T therapy is a serious consideration, for many patients the benefits are significant and far outweigh this small risk. Research will continue to refine these treatments and improve their safety.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Original article,

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