FDA approves new ‘game-changer’ cancer treatment

(WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Nov. 13, 2018 at 6:01 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The FDA has approved a new cancer treatment that is being used in the Bluff City.

Doctors are convinced it could even cure some forms of cancer.

This new cancer treatment is being called a game-changer. Doctors are now able to use a patient's own immune system to attack cancers.

In the heart of the Medical District, Methodist Healthcare Blood and Marrow Transplant Center are now among the few to be the first to administer the newly FDA-approved lifesaving CAR T therapy.

“Those patients usually have no options or offers to cure them,” said Dr. Yasser Khaled with Methodist Healthcare. “And now we have a treatment that can actually cure the most refractory cases.”

That option is now a reality thanks to the work of Dr. Khaled and Dr. Jason Chandler, a partnership between Methodist Healthcare and West Cancer Center that has been in the works for the last three years.

“It is amazing that it actually works,” Dr. Chandler said. “How can it actually take part of your own body change it and give it back and it expand, and it actually works is amazing.”

CAR T therapy works by collecting the patient’s T cells — a type of white blood cell — arming the T cells with antibodies, then re-infusing the cells back into the patient.

Those cells then multiply and attack the tumor cell. Doctors have seen results in two weeks, and 80 percent of patients see cancer gone in 30 days.

“If they can target on the surface there is no reason this should not be able to work to get your own immune system to attack the tumor,” Dr. Chandler said.

New research, happening right now in Memphis, is looking at using this therapy to cure other types of cancer.

Memphis is now one of roughly 100 transplant centers in the country to receive FDA approval for this innovative therapy.

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