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CAR T therapy

CAR T therapy is a new and complex biological therapy. It is also sometimes referred to as a type of immunotherapy. King’s was the first UK hospital to offer CAR T therapy to adult lymphoma patients.

We offer CAR T therapy to patients with lymphoma or with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in specific circumstances:

  • Adult patients who have diffuse large B cell lymphoma, transformed follicular lymphoma, or primary mediastinal B cell lymphoma are eligible if the lymphoma has recurred twice, or if other treatments like chemotherapy have not worked.
  • Patients aged 18-25 with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia are eligible if the leukaemia has recurred twice, or if chemotherapy has not worked.

How it works

CAR-T is different from most other cancer treatments because it is made from your own T cells (a type of white blood cell). The T cells are ‘reprogrammed’ in a laboratory to be able to target and help kill cancer cells. They are then infused back into you through a tube. Treatment is initially effective in up to 85% of patients, with 40-50% of patients having a long term response in lymphoma.

Side effects

There are some serious side effects that are quite common after having CAR T therapy. These include high fever, vomiting, difficulty breathing or speaking, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Our care team has lots of experience managing these side effects and will monitor you closely to check how you are reacting to the treatment.

If you do develop serious complications during your treatment, you will be transferred to a critical care ward here at King's, where you will be treated by the staff who have the appropriate expertise in managing serious complications.

Stages of CAR T therapy

CAR T therapy has several stages:

  • work-up, where you have tests and checks to make sure you are fit enough to have CAR T therapy
  • collecting the T cells
  • treating the T cells in the laboratory
  • conditioning chemotherapy, which prepares your immune system to receive the CAR T cells
  • infusion, where the reprogrammed cells are infused back into you
  • monitoring, to help manage side effects
  • follow–up, to see if the treatment is working and continue managing any remaining side effects.

More information

Email Kch-tr.KingsCAR@nhs.net for more information about CAR T therapy at King’s.

Cancer Research also has details information about how CAR T therapy.