University of Minnesota Health to Now Offer FDA-Approved Immunotherapy Drugs for Patients with Lymphoma

Leading edge CAR T-cell therapy is available for patients at the University of Minnesota Health after Food and Drug Administration approval.

MINNEAPOLIS - May 24, 2018 – This month, patients at University of Minnesota Health are among the first to be offered a new immunotherapy drugs, Yescarta® or Kymriah® for the treatment of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

Yescarta and Kymriah are part of an emerging class of treatments, called CAR T-cell therapies. These types of treatments harness the power of a patient’s own immune system to kill cancer. University of Minnesota Health is one of only two sites in Minnesota offering both Yescarta and Kymriah. Kymriah is also FDA-approved for the treatment of pediatric leukemia.

Kymriah and the newly approved Yescarta work in similar ways. Both are a type of CAR T-cell therapy, which is itself part of a larger group of innovative treatments called immunotherapies. During CAR T-cell therapy, specialists extract a large number of T-cells from a patient’s blood. The T-cells are then genetically modified to target cancer. After receiving the modification, the cells are then reinserted into the patient’s body, where they go to work killing cancer cells.

“CAR T-cell therapy has revolutionized the way we approach cancer treatment and sets a precedent for cell therapies,” Dr. Bachanova says. “It’s the beginning of a new era, I believe, where immunotherapy treatments will supplement chemotherapy or perhaps even replace it in the future.” Hematologist/Oncologist Veronika Bachanova, MD, PhD, University of Minnesota Health and Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation, University of Minnesota Medical School.

CAR T-cell therapies offer some patients another option in addition to traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation or a blood and marrow transplant. Though these therapies carry their own set of risks, the side effects are different from those of other cancer treatments and have a shorter window for complications.

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Contact: Krystle Barbour