Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy that changes T cells so they are able to recognise and attack cancer cells.

T cells are immune system cells that play several key roles in the body’s fight against disease. They help the immune system respond to disease and they attack and kill abnormal cells. Unfortunately, naturally occurring T cells in patients with cancer are not good at recognising and fighting cancer cells.

Results from a study in America have shown that more than 80% of patients with advanced kidney cancer benefited from CAR T cell therapy. Three quarters of patients had stable disease and one patient (of 16 patients in the study) had a long lasting complete response to treatment of more than three years during which time they were cancer-free.

“Our trial presents the first and the longest durable response we have seen with an allogeneic, off-the-shelf, CAR T cell therapy in the treatment of refractory solid tumours,” said the researchers. “These findings are exciting and encouraging as we continue to improve treatment options for patients with clear cell renal cell carcinoma and other high-risk solid tumours who otherwise have poor outcomes.”

The CAR T cell therapy was well tolerated. Mild to moderate cytokine release syndrome, a common side effect to CAR T cell therapy, was reported by half of the patients; however, there were no serious cases of cytokine release syndrome. Additionally, there were no cases of other common side effects to CAR T cell therapy.

Based on these positive findings, the researchers are currently enrolling patients in a phase I/II clinical trial to evaluate CAR T cell therapy.

Read more on MD Anderson Cancer Centre website here

Watch an interview with Dr Srour, the principle investigator, about this study here