Cellular Therapies

Doctors working in lab

Using Your Immune System to Fight Cancer

Providence Cancer Institute is one of the few highly specialized centers offering the newest cellular therapies. T cell therapy, which is an immunotherapy, is one type of cellular therapy offered at Providence. These therapies are available through both FDA-approved treatments and clinical trials.

T cells are immune cells that can find and destroy cancer cells. CAR T-cell therapies are designed to multiply and strengthen your own T cells to make them better at fighting your cancer. Current approaches focus on:

  • Taking some of your T cells, growing billions more in a lab, and returning them to you to expand your body’s team of cancer-fighting cells
  • Manipulating your T cells in the lab, before returning them to you, to improve their ability to target cancer
  • Adoptive T-cell therapy is very effective in treating some types of blood cancer, and we believe that it holds the potential to treat any cancer. Unlocking its potential is one of our major research priorities.

CAR T-cell therapy

One type of adoptive T-cell therapy, called CAR T-cell therapy, is now FDA approved for treating lymphoma and leukemia. Providence Cancer Institute’s experienced immunotherapy team offers this proven treatment. We also offer new applications for CAR T through clinical trials.

CAR T-cell therapy is a highly effective treatment for blood cancers. In this treatment, some of your T cells are removed and taken to a lab, where they are engineered to express proteins called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) – proteins that help T cells to recognize tumor cells. Your engineered CAR T cells are then multiplied in the lab and returned to you. 

  • CAR T-cell therapy, or CAR T, is usually recommended only for patients whose disease has returned despite chemotherapy, or who have developed resistance to their initial treatment.
  • Your physician will determine whether CAR T is right for you.

  • T cell collection: First, you’ll have an IV line placed to collect some of your blood. The blood will go through a machine that separates out some of your T cells (a process called leukapheresis), and then returns the blood to you. This takes about 3-4 hours. 
  • Gene modification: The collected T cells will be sent to a lab, where they’ll be modified to become CAR T cells. The lab generally takes about three weeks to complete this process. 
  • Conditioning chemotherapy: You will receive low-dose chemotherapy to prepare your body to receive the modified cells. This takes about six hours a day for three days in a row. 
  • Reinfusion: The modified CAR T cells will be returned to your body through an IV line. This takes about 30 minutes. 
  • Monitoring and follow-up: You’ll be monitored closely for at least seven days after your treatment to measure how well it’s working and to manage any side effects. After that, you’ll have regular follow-up appointments for up to a month to track your progress.

Our research team continues to explore new avenues in adoptive T-cell therapy. Currently, we are: 

  • Collaborating with our genetic-sequencing team to identify the unique mutations expressed by tumors, as well as the T cells that can recognize those genetic mutations 
  • Developing programs to generate personalized, potent and precise T-cell therapies in our own labs to target an individual’s unique cancer cells 
  • Learn more about our research in the Providence Antitumor T-cell Response Lab at the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute.