Nebraska Medicine is one of the first health networks in the Midwest and the only one in Nebraska to offer Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy for people with relapsed b-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas and pediatric/young adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia. T cells are white blood cells — lymphocytes — that fight infection and cancer. If you have this type of cancer of the lymphatic system, these cells are no longer fighting your cancer correctly. This procedure involves removing T cells from your blood stream and sending them to a lab where they are modified by inserting a gene into them. These cells are multiplied, frozen and sent back. The new cells attach onto cancer cells and destroy them.
Why Nebraska Medicine for CAR T-cell Therapy?
Though this is the fifth most common type of cancer in U.S. adults, it takes a large team to offer this treatment, which is one reason it's not readily available at most medical centers. Nebraska Medicine has a very large lymphoma program specializing in research and clinical trials, as well as the extensive equipment necessary to collect and help process the cells.
Overview of the Process at Nebraska Medicine
The entire process here could take more than six weeks.
During the first phase, you come in and have your T cells collected and sent to a lab for processing.
Meanwhile, you would return home for approximately three weeks while these cells are in production.
Once the cell modification is complete, you would then return here and receive a few days of chemotherapy to prepare your body to receive the cells.
You then have your own modified T cells placed back into your blood stream. A specialized team monitors you at the hospital for the next two weeks. Frequent blood tests and exams are necessary to closely watch for side effects of the treatment. You will continue to be monitored closely for the next few weeks in the outpatient clinic.
CAR T-cell is the first genetically altered cellular therapy to reach a commercial product. Given this is such a new treatment, you will be assigned a financial counselor to work with you and your insurance company regarding coverage options.
Second Opinions and Clinical Trials
Prior to the new treatment being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Nebraska Medicine was one of the few hospitals in the nation involved in the clinical trials program as well.
We are constantly trying to perform clinical trials on a wide variety of patients with other hard-to-treat cancers. So if you've been diagnosed with cancer and just want a second opinion, think you might be a fit for CAR T-cell therapy, or want to see if you'd be a fit for any of our existing clinical trials, please call 402.559.5600.