CAR T-Cells: Refining CLL Therapy With Clinical Trials

Brian Koffman, MDCM, MSEd, shares insight on his current relapse of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and discusses the potential value of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, which he will be receiving in an upcoming clinical trial.
PUBLISHED March 14, 2018


Brian Koffman, MDCM, MSEd: I’m extremely grateful for the 69 months of remission that I received from taking PCI-32765, or ibrutinib, under the excellent care that I received at Ohio State University from Dr. John Byrd and the team there. But I am relapsing, and I’ve looked at other options. Again, the best option for me at this point is a clinical trial. I’ve decided to enter a clinical trial of CAR T-cell therapy, or chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, specifically a trial at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance [SCAA], or the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. I’ll be starting that in the end of February of this year. This is an exciting new genetic therapy for CLL, and it’s quite a novel therapy. I’ll be the 36th patient entering the trial at SCCA, and I’m excited about this because I think it offers the option of not only moving the science forward but also, for myself, the best chance for a deep and durable remission for my quite aggressive CLL.

CAR T-cell therapy is really on the cutting-edge, and I predict that there may be a time in the future when we’ll look back and say, “I can’t believe that we treated cancer and didn’t use living drugs.” Because essentially, CAR T-cell therapy is a living drug therapy, and I’m excited to be part of an early cohort of patients who are exploring this option to manage their cancer.

Clinical trials are important from a patient’s perspective for a number of reasons. It’s not just that you’re moving the science forward and being altruistic, but there are also real advantages for a person entering the clinical trial themselves. They get access to new drugs. The drug that I took wasn’t commercially available until a few years later, and I’m alive today because of access to that drug. Also, I think you get more carefully monitored and supervised when you’re on a clinical trial. So, I highly recommend them as an option for most patients.

Transcript Edited for Clarity 

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