WMC Action News 5
UK Healthcare

The National Foundation for Transplants is pleased to announce Methodist Healthcare Blood and Marrow Transplant Center is among the first facility of its type in the United States to administer the newly FDA-approved lifesaving CAR T therapy, one of NFT’s covered transplant types.

T-cells are a type of white blood cell used by the immune system to fight off infection and disease. During CAR-T therapy, a patient’s T-cells are taken from their blood and modified in the laboratory. During this process, a receptor called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) is placed in the outside wall of the T-cells.

When these modified T-cells are infused back into the patient, these cells lock onto cancer cells using a “key – keyhole” approach, where their new receptor binds to a specific structure on the cancer cells. This allows the T-cells to kill cancer cells in a very targeted way.

That CAR-T therapy treatment option in Memphis is now a reality thanks to the work of Dr. Yasser Khaled and Dr. Jason Chandler, a partnership between Methodist Healthcare and West Cancer Center that has been in the works for the last three years.

“Patients usually have no options or offers to cure them,” said Dr. Yasser Khaled with Methodist Healthcare. “And now we have a treatment that can actually cure the most refractory cases.”

“It is amazing that it actually works,” Dr. Chandler said. “How can it actually take part of your own body change it and give it back and it expand, and it actually works is amazing.”

“Unlike allogenic bone marrow transplantation, where you use cells from the immune system of another person to fight the cancer and run the risk of the donor immune system attacking patient’s organs, CAR-T therapy uses the patient’s own cells,” said Dr. Gerhard Hildebrandt, division chief of Hematology and Blood and Marrow Transplantation at UK. “Essentially, we’re taking the patient’s immune cells and equipping them with the tools to fight back against their own cancer.”