New CAR T-Cell Therapy Approved and Available at Roswell Park for Lymphoma Patients

Sent out by the immune system, T cells attack a cancer cell. (Illustration made from a microscopic photo.)

Cancer center is an authorized treatment site for Tecartus, a treatment for mantle cell lymphoma

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Giving patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) access to more treatment options, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center has been approved to administer the FDA-approved chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy Tecartus. The immunotherapy drug is manufactured by Kite, a subsidiary of Gilead Sciences.

Tecartus, also known as brexucabtagene autoleucel, works by harnessing the body’s immune system to fight the cancer. A patient’s T-cells, a type of white blood cell, are collected and modified in the lab using a process called white blood cell enrichment. The circulating tumor cells are filtered out as a gene is added to strengthen the T-cell’s ability to fight and kill cancer cells. The re-engineered cells are then multiplied and administered back to the patient intravenously.

Mantle cell lymphoma is a very rare type of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma — accounting for just 2-10% of all lymphomas nationally — and is most common in men 60 and older. Typical treatment is chemotherapy, sometimes followed by a stem cell transplant. MCL can become aggressive if a patient relapses.

Tecartus is the first CAR T-cell therapy approved for MCL, authorized by the FDA for this purpose in July 2020. Roswell Park is currently one of 80 centers across the United States authorized to administer the treatment to patients.

“The ability to offer MCL patients a new and innovative form of immunotherapy is incredible,” said Francisco Hernandez-Ilizaliturri, MD, Chief of Lymphoma at Roswell Park. “Tackling this aggressive cancer with Tecartus gives these patients another option for improved quality of life.”

“We fully embrace CAR T-cell therapy as the future of cancer care. Tecartus is the latest treatment option in our toolbelt that lets us use a patient’s own cells to tackle the disease, and that’s an incredible testament to what personalized medicine is, and what it can become,” said Philip McCarthy, MD, Director of the Transplant and Cellular Therapy Center at Roswell Park.

Roswell Park’s Transplant and Cellular Therapy (TCT) Center offers the latest and most promising treatments for eligible patients. A Center of Excellence, the hospital was among the first centers in the world to routinely offer blood and marrow transplants. Patients who come for cellular therapy are monitored by a team of experts who meet weekly to ensure best possible care. Tecartus is the third FDA-approved cellular therapy to be offered at Roswell Park, behind Kymriah and Yescarta.