CAR T for CNS lymphoma: Early research shows promise
December 12, 2018
| by Cara Martinez
Xiuli Wang, Ph.D.
Over the last 20 years, the incidence of central nervous system lymphoma (CNSL) — which starts in the brain, spinal cord, eyes or meninges — has increased. It now represents approximately 2-3 percent of all brain tumors.
Unlike other types of lymphomas, this aggressive cancer is seen exclusively in an advanced state, and because these tumors are deeply embedded in hard-to-reach areas, surgery is not an option and many other treatments, like chemotherapy, prove unsuccessful.
Wang, an expert in CAR T cell therapy and immunotherapy, is committed to improving outcomes for patients facing this rare but deadly disease. The research she presented at ASH suggests that delivering one injection of CAR T cells — a powerful treatment that uses a patient’s own immune system to fight cancerous cells without harming neighboring healthy cells — directly into a specific compartment of the brain is more accurate and potent than existing therapies.
Currently, all CAR T cell therapies are given to patients intravenously, Wang said. “Our research suggests that by injecting the immunotherapy drug directly into the brain instead of a vein, the drug will have a better chance of reaching deeply embedded tumors.”
This technique also offers a secondary benefit.
“Once the immunotherapy enters the brain, it can more easily migrate to other parts of the body, ultimately treating subsequent tumors throughout the body,” Wang said.
While these findings are not yet ready to be tested in patients, Wang and her research team plan to open a phase 1 clinical trial in the near future.
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