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Female pathologist and technician examining test tube samples

Over the last several years, Moffitt Cancer Center has been leading an important initiative in collaboration with cancer centers across the nation—to develop and refine immunotherapies for cancer treatment. These complex and highly personalized therapies use immune cells to target and destroy cancerous cells.

The research team at Moffitt is working tirelessly and learning more every day. Studies performed to date show that a specific immunotherapy known as CAR T-cell therapy can be effective for treating blood cancers.

How does CAR T-cell therapy work?

CAR T-cell therapy uses specially altered T cells—a key component of the body’s immune system—to fight certain types of leukemia. This novel treatment approach involves collecting T cells from a sample of a patient’s blood, then genetically modifying those cells in a lab to create special structures known as chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) on their surface. When the CAR T cells are reinfused into the patient, the new receptors enable the altered immune cells to latch onto a specific antigen found in tumor cells, then destroy the cancerous cells. In essence, CAR T helps the immune system become a better cancer-fighter.

CAR T-cell therapy can be a game-changer for certain patients who are fighting leukemia, especially those whose cancer has not responded to standard therapies. At Moffitt, clinical trials are underway with a goal to expand the use of CAR T-cell to other blood malignancies, such as multiple myeloma.

Medically reviewed by Hany Elmariah, MD, MS

If you have questions about CAR T-cell therapy for leukemia, you can talk with an oncologist in our Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cellular Immunotherapy Program. Request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. We can provide individualized guidance to help you find the best treatment options.