T-cell CARTs are known worldwide for their effectiveness in the treatment of advanced blood and lymphatic system cancers. According to the National Cancer Institute, two drugs in the T-cell CART category have been authorized in the European market since 2018. Namely : Kymriah® and Yescarta®. They are already being used by oncologists at the Toulouse University Cancer Institute to treat their patients. The results are tangible. Hematologist Anne Huynh is optimistic: "It's a hopeful sign, the response rates are impressive and range from 70 to 80%, which was impossible with conventional treatment. »
What is it all about and how is it used?
T-cell CARTs are white blood cells or T-lymphocytes that are capable of detecting and destroying specific cancer cells. They have a special receptor (TCR) that makes them able to recognize cancer cells and make them their targets.
Being a real immunological barrier, T-cell CARTs multiply once inserted into the body. They prevent the emergence of recurrent cancer cells.
Treatment with T-cell CARTs is as follows:
White blood cell samples are taken from the patient’s body.
They are equipped with TCR receptor in laboratories and are re-injected into the patient's body.
It is important to be aware that the procedure causes intolerances. Doctors at the University Cancer Institute of Toulouse have observed side effects on all patients treated with T-cell CARTs: fevers, difficulty breathing, hypotension, etc. Hematologist Pierre Bories is confident: "The majority of patients showed complications, but we have resolved 100% of the symptoms, it is manageable".
T-cell CARTs are refunded in France.
At the University Cancer Institute of Toulouse, T-cell CARTs are beneficial for people with acute blood cancer. Six out of the nine patients that followed treatment have recovered from their disease. The other three are being treated.
Good news never comes alone. In France, since July 2019, Kymriah® and Yescarta® have been reimbursed by health insurance.