CAR T-Cell Therapy Now Available as Standard of Care

March 10, 2024

Found in Access,  Immunotherapy,  News

The Asrat family, pictured alongside BC Cancer, Foundation and Provincial leadership, shared how CAR-T therapy saved their son Hugo after being diagnosed with leukemia at just two-years-old.

CAR T-cell therapy is a cutting-edge immunotherapy treatment that uses genetically engineered copies of a patient’s own immune cells to attack and destroy cancer cells. Now, in an announcement that highlights philanthropy’s ability to transform cancer care, CAR T-cell therapy will be available as standard of care for certain blood cancer patients in B.C.

“BC Cancer’s CAR-T research program was the first of its kind in Canada and founded 100% through BC Cancer Foundation donor funding,” says Sarah Roth, President & CEO, BC Cancer Foundation. “Providing this therapy as standard of care marks the success of this research and will have a tremendous impact on British Columbians in need of the cutting-edge treatment.”

Built solely through donor support, the Conconi Family Immunotherapy Lab within BC Cancer’s Deeley Research Centre, became the first facility in Canada to produce CAR T-cells, creating the infrastructure to pursue this novel area of immunotherapy research.

The lab began with a question from the Foundation to Dr. Brad Nelson, a world-renowned immunotherapy researcher, in 2014: “If you could do something really big, what would you do?”

Dr. Nelson saw the potential the just-emerging therapy could have on patients and replied he would build a facility to create CAR T-cells. The BC Cancer Foundation and its donors actioned this call and the Conconi Family Immunotherapy Lab opened the following year.

This brought CAR-T clinical trials to B.C. — and Canada — and pushed forward the global understanding of these treatments. Recently published results of the lab’s first study showed favourable results and certain patients are now cancer free — remarkable as these patients had exhausted existing treatment options.

The first treatments of the standard of care program will be delivered in March 2024. During its initial implementation, a total of 25 patients will receive the treatment each year, including pediatric patients.

Additional information is available in the Ministry of Health’s press release. Or support BC Cancer’s continued innovation in immunotherapy research.