NEW ORLEANS, La. – Ochsner MD Anderson Cancer Center at The Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center in New Orleans is proud to be the first institution in Louisiana to use CAR T cell therapy in adults, the revolutionary treatment for certain types of blood cancers.
A New Orleans adult patient received CAR T cell therapy in June, with a complete response and no evidence of cancer in late July, putting them in full remission. The patient is being treated under the guidance of Clark Alsfeld, MD, hematologist/oncologist and cellular therapy specialist at Ochsner MD Anderson.
How does CAR T cell therapy work?
The patient's own T cells, a type of white blood cell, are extracted from their blood. These T cells are then genetically modified in a laboratory to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) on their surface.
These CARs are designed to recognize specific proteins, known as antigens, that are present on the surface of cancer cells. Once the T cells are modified and expanded in number, they are infused back into the patient's bloodstream. The engineered CAR T cells then seek out and bind to the cancer cells, leading to their destruction.
CAR T cell therapy is particularly effective against certain types of blood cancers, such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Patient eligibility depends on the type of cancer and prior treatment—some must have already gone through multiple unsuccessful standard treatments. However, recent studies have even shown a benefit for CAR T cell therapy in certain patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after one line of therapy. Given this success, clinical trials at Ochsner MD Anderson and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston are evaluating CAR T cell therapy as first-line treatment in non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The success of CAR T cell therapy is very promising, with significant remission rates observed in patients who have not responded to standard cancer treatments, as evidenced by Ochsner
MD Anderson’s first patient. CAR T cell therapy represents a momentous advancement in cancer treatment and has the potential to revolutionize the way certain types of cancers are managed. Ongoing research and development are focused on expanding its use to other cancer types, including solid tumors, and improving its safety and efficacy.
Since Ochsner MD Anderson’s first CAR T cell patient’s therapy in June, its Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy team has begun the CAR T cell treatment process on one additional patient and is currently evaluating three others, with more patients to receive the treatment this fall.
For more than 80 years, Ochsner has been dedicated to cancer research and new cancer therapy development, bringing innovations to treatment with more clinical trials than anywhere else in Louisiana. It is accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American College of Radiology, the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (Bone Marrow Transplant) and the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers.
In June 2023, Ochsner Health announced a partnership with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to create Ochsner MD Anderson Cancer Center in southeastern Louisiana, providing the region’s patients with access to cancer treatments among the most advanced in the nation. Through this collaboration, Ochsner is the first and only provider in Louisiana with a fully integrated cancer program based on MD Anderson’s standards and treatment plans.
Cancer care at Ochsner is recognized by U.S. News & World Report, ranking as high performing in leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma treatment and colon, lung and prostate cancer surgeries. Ochsner’s ear, nose and throat specialty is also ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top 50 program in the country, which includes head and neck surgical oncology. The Ochsner Cancer Institute treats more than 40,000 patients each year and has cared for patients from all 50 states and 28 countries. Each patient’s care team can include as many as 20 multidisciplinary cancer specialists working together to provide high-quality treatment. In 2022, more than 300,000 preventive cancer screenings were performed at Ochsner facilities across its system.
To learn more about Ochsner MD Anderson Cancer Center and the treatment options available to patients, please visit ochsner.org/cancerservices.