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CAR-T therapy service: adult

Published on 07 February 2024

Chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) therapy is for eligible adults with relapsed or refractory high-grade lymphoma. This means it may benefit patients with some types of lymphoma that have come back or haven’t responded to treatment.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde provides the service at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow.

The service covers:

  • the licensed CAR-T therapies – axicabtagene ciloleucel and tisagenlecleucel
  • all necessary assessments
  • related follow-up care

What is CAR-T therapy?

CAR-T cell therapy is a new, very complex and specialist treatment. It’s specifically developed for each individual and involves reprogramming a patient’s own immune system cells, which are then used to target their cancer.

A process called apheresis allows specialists to take a sample of T cells from a patient's blood. In the lab, the T cells are genetically engineered into CAR-T cells, which are designed to recognise and target a specific protein on the cancer cells. The CAR-T cells are reinfused into the patient's bloodstream through a drip.

CAR-T cell therapy can cause serious side effects so patients are closely monitored. Currently, it’s available as a possible treatment for some adults with lymphoma, and some children and young people with leukaemia. People with other types of cancer might have it as part of a clinical trial.

The CAR-T service in Glasgow hosts a national multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting. The MDT reviews all patients who are being considered for treatment with one of the above products.

Specialist doctors refer patients from across Scotland. The MDT then decides if a patient is eligible and makes recommendations about alternative treatment options. It also considers whether patients are suitable for clinical trials.

Children with leukaemia for whom CAR-T therapy may be an option should be referred to the paediatric allogeneic stem cell service in Glasgow by their specialist doctor. Eligible children will then be referred to a specialist unit in England to receive the treatment.