In CAR-T cell therapy, scientists engineer immune cells to target specific types of blood cancer, using the body's own immune defenses to tackle the cancer. A sample of the patient's T-cells are taken from their blood and genetically modified in the lab to add sensors (Chimeric Antigen Receptors) that seek out certain cancers. The cells are allowed to multiply, before being infused back into the patient, where the new antigen receptors allow them to target and destroy the cancer cells. The initial blood sample can be taken in either form.
There are around 44,000 new cases of blood cancers diagnosed across Europe every year. Globally in 2013, around 600,000 people died from blood cancers. Estimates suggest that if the promise of CAR-Ts is realised, it could amount to 7,700 lives saved and 275,000 life years gained for EU patients diagnosed in 2020.
“CAR-T cell therapies help the body fight back against blood cancer and could replace current chemotherapy treatment. They have the potential to save the lives of thousands of people affected by blood cancer.”
CAR-Ts may offer a one-time solution, displacing the costs of chemotherapy treatments, and reducing expenditure on targeted therapy by between 55 and 100%. The curative promise of CAR-Ts may allow people to live longer, healthier, more productive lives.
Production of CAR-Ts needs to be provided at or close to the point of delivery, creating a need to develop novel, integrated care delivery pathways. Investment may therefore be required to set up large facilities, where the treatments can be both manufactured and given to patients.