Key challenges for CAR-T cell therapy for cancers and sarcomas at present are to shrink tumours further – with the aim of “complete response”, where no tumour is visible on follow-up scans – and to prolong response, so patients stay in remission.
Most cancer patients treated with CAR-T cell therapy still have incomplete responses, and/or suffer relapse of their cancer later, when CAR-T cell therapy stops working.
Techniques to achieve more complete and lasting responses are now in effect. These depend on improving the growth and persistence of CAR-T cells in patients.
Many patients treated with CAR-T cell therapy now receive other treatments at the same time – aimed to open up their tumours to CAR-T cells, to enable CAR-T cells to attack the tumour cells, and to ensure CAR-T cells persist for months after therapy.
It is possible to monitor patients’ blood to check that CAR-T cells are growing and are causing damage to tumours, and that vital normal organs (lungs and brain) are safe. These tests allow treatment to be modulated to achieve better results for patients.