Nurse Says CAR-T Cell Therapy is a ‘Mind-Blowing’ Advancement

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For patients with blood cancers, CAR-T cell therapy has been a “mind-blowing” advancement for treatment in the cancer space.

In the ever-advancing cancer space, more types of treatments have been available, notably CAR-T cell therapy.

“When I first started my career, we were giving a lot of chemotherapy [and] a lot of bone marrow transplants,” Lauren Yakelis said during an interview.

Yakelis is an oncology nurse at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans and was a 2024 Extraordinary Healer finalist. She noted that now, new treatments have “evolved” in the cancer space, including CAR-T cell therapy.

“That's mind-blowing to me that your own body is now fighting the cancer cells and reproducing and killing the cancer,” she said.

READ MORE: Blood Cancer Expert Talks CAR-T Cell Therapy Risks, Benefits

CAR-T cell therapy typically treats patients with certain blood cancers, the National Cancer Institute explains. For patients eligible for CAR-T cell therapy, doctors take T-cells from patients’ blood. They then add a specific gene that binds to a certain protein on the cancer cells to destroy them. After many CAR T cells have grown, patients receive the therapy via an infusion.

In early April 2024, the Food and Drug Administration approved Carvykti (ciltacabtageneautoleucel; cilta-cel) for certain patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. The approval came following results from the phase 3 CARTITUDE-4 trial.

Yakelis sat down with CURE® at the 2024 Extraordinary Healer® Award event and discussed the advances in cancer treatment during her career.

Transcript:

Just recently is when I realized this is why I chose oncology. When I first started my career, we were giving a lot of chemotherapy, a lot of bone marrow transplants, which are cool. But and I knew that in the next 40 to 50 years in my career, I would see all the new treatments that evolved in cancer therapy. So now CAR-T cell therapy is something I've never seen where you take your own T-cells in your body, your own immune system and you engineer those cells to go fight the cancer.

That's mind-blowing to me that your own body is now fighting the cancer cells and reproducing and killing the cancer. Patients are 30 days on the line after we do their first scan and they're in remission. It's mind-blowing, so to see where we've come, this is why I chose oncology because I just want to help people regain their life and their quality of life and live longer with their families.

Transcript has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.

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