Currently, FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapies require a single infusion that is given during an inpatient stay in a hospital. If you are a candidate for cellular therapy, there are several steps that occur before, during and after infusion.
- Shortly before we begin collection of your T cells, you will have a central venous catheter (CVC) inserted. This avoids multiple needle sticks and makes it easier and more comfortable for you to receive infusions and other medications during your treatment.
- About 30 days prior to your planned infusion, doctors will draw blood and extract your T-cells. The process can take several hours and is done much like a regular blood donation except that this process, called apheresis, just removes some of your T-cells and returns the rest of the blood back into your body. The extracted cells are then sent to a laboratory where they will be engineered to fight your specific cancer.
- Pre-Treatment Imaging and Lab Tests – While you are waiting for your genetically engineered CAR T-cells, your doctor will order a series of tests, including blood and urine screenings, chest x-rays, heart and lung function tests, a bone marrow biopsy, and imaging scans such as CT, PET or MRI. These tests enable doctors to assess the status of your cancer prior to undergoing treatment.
- Once your engineered CAR T-cells are ready, you likely will undergo chemotherapy to prepare your body to receive the new cells. This procedure is called lymphodepleting chemotherapy because it is a type of chemotherapy that lowers your white blood cell count to better prepare your body for the CAR T-cells.
- When you are ready, you will receive your customized CAR T-cells via infusion. The process typically takes less than 30 minutes.
After your infusion, you will be monitored closely for any adverse side effects.
Typically, you will remain in the hospital for one to two weeks.