CAR T-Cell Therapy: Update on the State of the Science

Misty Lamprecht, MS, APRN-CNS, AOCN®, BMTCN®; Colleen Dansereau, MSN, RN, CPN


Background: Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy leverages the power of the patient’s own immune system by serving as a bridge to connect genetically modified T cells to the surface antigens of tumor cells based on targeted ligands. Clinical trials have demonstrated compelling overall response and survival rates in individuals with B-cell malignancies. The current approved agents target CD19, an antigen commonly overexpressed in B-cell hematologic and other malignancies.

Objectives: This article provides information on the current state of the science related to commercially available CAR T-cell products and examines how CAR T-cell science is evolving.

Methods: An overview of pathophysiology, indications, and nursing implications of the currently approved CAR T-cell agents is presented. Future directions for CAR T-cell development and treatment indications are discussed.

Findings: Tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah®) and axicabtagene ciloleucel (Yescarta®) received approval in 2017 for the treatment of B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia in pediatric and young adult patients, and relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma after two or more lines of systemic therapy in adult patients, respectively. Additional indications have since been approved, and new agents are in development.

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