Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital

What is Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy?


T-cells are types of white cells that are key fighters in the patient’s immune system. In the process, T-cells are collected from a patient via apheresis, a procedure during which blood is withdrawn from the body and one or more blood components are removed. Then the collected T-cells are sent to a laboratory or a drug manufacturing facility where they are genetically altered to produce chimeric antigen receptors (CARS) on the surface of the cells. After this reengineering, the T-cells are called “chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells”. CARS are proteins that allow the T-cells to recognize an antigen on targeted tumor cells.  The modified T-cells are multiplied in the lab and then frozen.

The cells are thawed in the hospital and then reinfused into the patient. They attack and kill the cancer cells and may remain in the body months after the infusion.

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