CHIMERIC ANTIGEN RECEPTOR (CAR) T-CELL THERAPY
Kymriah is a prescription drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in people up to age 25. It is also approved for some types of lymphoma. Kymriah is indicated when leukemia is refractory or has relapsed two or more times. Kymriah is also known by its drug name, tisagenlecleucel.
Kymriah is a type of immunotherapy called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. Kymriah is also a type of gene therapy. Kymriah is made from a person’s own T cells that have been harvested and genetically engineered to target a protein called CD19, commonly found on B cells. Kymriah is believed to work by attacking and killing leukemia cells.
How do I take it?
Since Kymriah is manufactured from your own cells, the first step is having your T cells harvested at a clinic in a process similar to receiving a blood transfusion. Next, the cells are frozen and sent to the manufacturer’s laboratory, where they are genetically altered. The manufacturing process takes three to four weeks. Finally, Kymriah is shipped to your health care provider.
Some people receive chemotherapy for a few days before receiving Kymriah; this creates space for the new CAR T cells. Kymriah is administered once as an intravenous infusion.
The FDA-approved label for Kymriah lists common side effects including headache, fever, fatigue, infections, nausea, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and edema (swelling).
Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) is both common and potentially severe in people who take Kymriah. CRS, which can be potentially fatal, can include severe symptoms listed above as well as neurological side effects such as seizures, hallucinations, and tremors. Individuals taking Kymriah may also be advised to refrain from operating heavy machinery or driving.
Rare but serious side effects listed for Kymriah can include neurological damage, severe infections, hypersensitivity reactions, immune system impairment, and increased risk for developing other types of cancer.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Kymriah — Novartis
Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-Cell Therapy — Leukemia & Lymphoma Society