CAR T-Cells: Refining CLL Therapy With Clinical Trials
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.