• By Kevin Punsky

Mayo Clinic first to perform CAR T-cell therapy in NE Florida

October 9, 2018

3D illustration of CAR T-cell therapy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayo Clinic is the first cancer center in Northeast Florida to offer chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR T-cell therapy) for patients with relapsed large B-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma who have previously failed two or more lines of treatment. This cell-based immunotherapy is one of the most promising new areas of cancer treatment.

CAR T-cell therapy involves collecting the patient’s own white blood cells (T-cells) and then genetically re-engineering them in the lab to recognize and kill a specific type of cancer cells. Once processed, the modified cells are frozen and returned to the hospital for IV infusion into the patient. Prior to receiving the T-cells, patients undergo a short chemotherapy regimen. Once infused, the CAR T-cells proliferate in the body, and begin to recognize and attack cancer cells.

“An estimated 20,000 people in the U.S. will develop large B-cell lymphoma this year ― the second most common blood cancer after leukemia in adults,” says Mohamed Kharfan Dabaja, M.D., a bone marrow transplant and lymphoma expert, and director of the CAR T-Cell Therapy Program at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus. “Conventional chemotherapies are often ineffective in patients with large B-cell lymphoma who have failed two lines of therapy and CAR T-cell therapy offers a more effective treatment option. This therapy has shown to improve two-year survival rates from less than 20 percent to over 50 percent.”

CAR T-cell therapy for large B-cell lymphoma was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2017. Mayo Clinic is one of three cancer centers in Florida to offer this treatment to large B-cell lymphoma patients, and there are only nine centers in the Southeast offering this type of advanced cell-based cancer therapy.

“I think that in the past 10 years, this is probably the most innovative and revolutionary treatment that our field has seen,” Dr. Kharfan says. “I anticipate in the future that this type of therapy will be available for other types of cancers, including solid tumors. There is research going on in that direction with promising results.”

Mayo Clinic’s CAR T-Cell Therapy Program is one of the few landmark programs with experts trained and certified to manage complex CAR T-cell therapy. Mayo Clinic was one of the centers that treated patients as part of the clinical trial that led to FDA approval of CAR T-cell therapy. This therapy also is available at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona and Minnesota campuses.

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