This a long article but fascinating.
Sorry about the subtitle there... it should read:
"I’ve now treated several patients with the new cancer gene therapy called CAR-T, but there’s still a lot to learn"
The article is too long to really describe much here. But the author sums it up very well at the end:
I look at these patients and think a sober truth: Before CAR-T, all would likely die within six months. Now, imagine taking 40 percent and curing them. Sure, a naysayer might point out, it’s only 40 percent. What’s the hype if most still succumb to their cancer? But there was nothing close to that before CAR-T. I agree with how Gill described it: “I think CAR-T cells are like chemotherapy in the 1950s. They’re not better than chemotherapy — they’re just different.” For an adversary as tough as cancer, we’ll take any tool we can get.
There remain many questions. Can we use CAR-T earlier in a cancer’s course? Lessen the side effects? Overcome resistance? Streamline manufacturing and reimbursement? Will it work in other cancers? Patients will sign up to answer.
For now, one patient seems to be in the lucky 40 percent. Her one-year PET scan showed no cancer. I thought of our last coffee meeting, where I had asked if she ever worried she wouldn’t return to normal. She didn’t even pause. “If you’re not dead,” she said, “you’re winning.”