The study’s principal investigator, Mohamad Cherry, MD, medical director of hematology for Atlantic Health System Cancer Care, is a nationally known expert at treating and researching blood-related cancers such as lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma. Dr. Cherry is triple board-certified in internal medicine, hematology and medical oncology.
“A type of immunotherapy for lymphoma known as CAR T-cell therapy has generated a great deal of excitement within the medical community, because it involves using a patient’s own immune cells to attack their cancer,” said Dr. Cherry. “Two types of CAR T therapy are FDA-approved (tisagenleleucel, or Kymriah and axicabtagene ciloleucel, or Yescarta) for certain types of advanced or recurrent lymphoma. Other CAR T-cell therapies for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, including the one we are testing, are now in clinical trials.”
“We are excited to achieve this milestone – offering lymphoma patients CAR T therapy at Morristown Medical Center’s new Breakthrough Treatment Center,” added Dr. Cherry. “So far, patients with aggressive B cell lymphomas receiving approved CAR T therapies respond to the treatment almost 80% of the time.”
In CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T-cell therapy, immune cells known as T cells are removed from the patient’s blood and altered in the lab to have specific receptors (chimeric antigen receptors) on their surface. These receptors can attach to proteins on the surface of lymphoma cells. The T cells are then multiplied in the lab and infused back into the patient’s blood, where they seek out the lymphoma cells and launch a precise immune attack against them. Both the currently approved lymphoma CAR T-cell treatment and treatments in clinical trials do not require that the patient be hospitalized while receiving treatment. CAR T-cell therapies are designed for patients whose lymphoma has relapsed.
The current clinical trial is an open-label (all patients receive the study medication), multicenter, Phase 2 study in an outpatient setting. The purpose of the study is to determine the safety, pharmacokinetics (the way drugs move inside the body), and efficacy of a CAR T therapy in patients who have relapsed from, or whose disease is resistant to (refractory), two lines of immunochemotherapy for aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Study participants will be followed for up to 2 years.
“We have made great progress in treating non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma over the last several years and survival rates have increased, while there are also a number of promising therapies and treatment approaches now in clinical trials,” Dr. Cherry said. “Among the treatments available to patients are targeted therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation, immunotherapy and, very rarely, surgery.”
He added, “While newer types of therapy have revolutionized cancer treatment, most non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients receive chemotherapy, often as a combination of chemo drugs or in combination with immunotherapy, targeted therapy or radiation therapy,” said Dr. Cherry. “Some of these combinations are now being further studied in clinical trials, to determine the most effective combinations and doses, with the fewest side effects.”
To learn more about this clinical trial and other clinical trials available at Atlantic Health System, visit www.atlantichealth.org/research.
About Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is not just one disease; there are 60 subtypes of this blood cancer, which are either slow or fast growing. Different treatments are generally used for each subtype.
Lymphoma generally develops in the lymph nodes and lymphatic tissue found in organs such as the stomach, intestines or skin. In some cases, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma involves bone marrow and blood. Approximately 85-90% of non-Hodgkin’s cases are B-cell lymphomas: they start when B lymphocytes (B cells), which produce antibodies to help fight infection, undergo a change (mutation) in a lymph node or other location in the lymphatic system. These abnormal lymphocytes accumulate and form tumors. If non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma isn’t treated, the cancerous cells crowd out normal white cells (immune cells known as leukocytes), and the immune system can’t guard against infection effectively.
About Atlantic Health System Cancer Care
Atlantic Health System Cancer Care offers an unparalleled network of cancer specialists and resources for more than 6000 patients annually through its flagship Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown and Overlook medical centers, as well as its comprehensive oncology programs at Chilton, Hackettstown and Newton medical centers. Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is the lead affiliate of Atlantic Health Cancer Consortium (AHCC) – the only New Jersey-based National Cancer Institute (NCI) Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). The NCORP develops and implements NCI cancer prevention, screening, care delivery, and treatment studies with leading healthcare systems across the state. With more than 250 cancer specialists, all five hospitals and Atlantic Medical Group are designated Blue Cross Blue Shield ‘Blue Distinction Centers’ and have been recognized nationally for the role in advancing the fight against cancer. Morristown, Overlook, Chilton and Newton medical centers earned the coveted American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer Outstanding Achievement Award and earned Three-Year Approval with Commendation. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Atlantic Health System hospitals as high performing in colon cancer surgery, lung cancer surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, and pulmonology. Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is affiliated with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) of Phoenix, Arizona, and together they have launched the Breakthrough Oncology Accelerator, a pioneering research and clinical collaboration designed to improve patient access to the most innovative and sophisticated therapies for cancer.
About Atlantic Health System
Atlantic Health System, headquartered in Morristown, N.J., is an integrated health care delivery system powered by a workforce of more than 16,500 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities. The system serves a population of 5 million, with more than 400 sites of care, including six hospitals: Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Newton Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center, Hackettstown Medical Center and Goryeb Children’s Hospital.
In addition to the employed workforce, Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network represents more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ. This network includes 1,000 physicians and providers within the Atlantic Medical Group, as well as members of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners which work to enhance patient care delivery.
Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs including 11 urgent care centers, Atlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.
Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of seven regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability and is a founding member of both the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system that will expand access to groundbreaking research across six health systems in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and AllSpire Health Partners, a consortium of five leading health care organizations dedicated to serving patients, families and communities in New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
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