In the United States, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has initiated an investigation into cases of patients, who might have developed new forms of cancer after Car-T anti-cancer treatment. But what exactly is Car-T therapy and how does it function?
Basically, Car-T therapy is based on the extraction of T lymphocytes, a type of immune cell, from patients and their genetic of modification to target the tumor. In the laboratory, Car-Ts are engineered to produce chimeric antigen receptors, which are proteins that bind to specific proteins on the tumor cell surface, transformed into potent tumor killers.
However, some researchers have uncovered a concerning aspect of this treatment: T lymphocytes, over time, may undergo transformation into tumor cells, leading to aggressive cancer relapse or, in severe cases, patient’s death.
The primary drawback of CAR-T therapies is the potential release of genetic material at an unpredictable location in the genome. This could activate a potential tumor gene, although it is emphasized that the genetic material introduced is not necessarily cancer-inducing.
In reality, CAR-T therapies are used as a last resort, mostly when traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy have failed. Despite the identified risks, the majority of oncologists advocate for their use, recognizing these therapies as the forefront of medical innovation through reprogramming of patients' cells.
It is essential, however, to stress the importance of vigilant monitoring of patients undergoing Car-T treatment.
*Antonio Giordano, is an oncologist and the founder and director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia. Additionally, he holds the position of Professor of Anatomy and Pathological Histology at the University of Siena.
Professor Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., is the creator and head of the Sbarro Health Research Organization, located at Temple University's College of Science and Technology in Philadelphia. Stay connected with him through his various social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, to receive the latest updates.