Welcome to the CAR T-cell Therapy Program at BMC. Launched in 2022, our program offers patients equitable access to chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, an innovative and powerful new cancer treatment. Experts in our CAR T-cell Therapy Program work closely with our other cancer programs to help ensure all our patients get the care they need.

CAR T-cell therapy is an option for certain types of hard-to-treat cancers. This cell-based gene therapy uses a patient’s own T-cells (a type of white blood cell) to find and destroy cancer cells in their body.

Cancers Treated with CAR T-cell Therapy

Multiple Myeloma

At Boston Medical Center (BMC), the care of patients with multiple myeloma is a collaborative, multidisciplinary process. BMC’s Cancer Care Center organizes its services around each patient, bringing together the expertise of diverse specialists to manage care from the first consultation through treatment and follow-up visits. Read more

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is a type of cancer that starts growing in the body’s lymph system. The lymph system is part of the immune system that helps fight off disease. NHL is a general term for several types of lymphoma. The other major type of lymphoma is Hodgkin lymphoma. Read more

 

Frequently Asked Questions About CAR T-cell Therapy

What is CAR T-cell therapy?

CAR T-cell therapy is a type of cancer treatment called immunotherapy that uses your body’s own immune system to help fight cancer. CAR T-cell therapy is most often used after other types of cancer treatment have not worked, or if your cancer has come back after treatment. It is a one-time treatment that takes about two to three months to complete.

CAR T-cell therapy is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat multiple myeloma and some kinds of leukemias and lymphomas. Experts hope that in the future CAR T-cell therapies will be approved to treat other types of cancers.

How does CAR T-cell therapy work?

T-cells are a type of white blood cell. They work in your body to help fight infection. In CAR T-cell therapy, some of your T-cells are taken out of your blood and changed in a lab to help them fight cancer. Then they are placed back into your body to help fight cancer.

How do I get CAR T-cell therapy?

The first step is taking some T-cells from your blood. This process is called apheresis or leukapheresis. It is done in a lab in the hospital and takes about two to three hours. Then your T-cells are sent to a lab, and a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) to fight your specific type of cancer is added to them. This turns your T-cells into CAR T-cells. This process takes a few weeks. When it’s done, the lab will send the T-cells back, and they will be given to you in an infusion in the hospital. A few days before the infusion, you may have chemotherapy to help CAR T-cells fight the cancer. After the infusion, you will stay in the hospital for a week or longer of recovery time so your doctor can watch for side effects. Your team will continue to monitor your health for several weeks after you return home.

What are the side effects of CAR T-cell therapy?

CAR T-cell therapy is a powerful cancer treatment that can cause side effects. In some cases, the side effects can be severe. Your health care team will watch you carefully for side effects for a few weeks after your treatment. Side effects may include:

  • Cytokine release syndrome (CRS), which can cause a high fever, chills, a fast heartbeat, headaches, trouble breathing, and muscle aches
  • Problems with the nervous system, including confusion, loss of balance, shaking (tremors), or seizures
  • Low blood counts
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Allergic reactions
  • An increased risk of bleeding

What type of CAR T-cell therapy does BMC offer?

BMC has partnered with Janssen to offer our patients Cilta-cel, an FDA-approved CART T-cell therapy.

Our Team

The CAR T-cell Therapy Program at BMC brings together the expertise of a wide range of specialists. Led by Dr. Fabio Petrocca, a world-renowned expert in CAR T-cell therapy, our multidisciplinary team provides coordinated care between hematology, critical care, neurology, cardiology, social work, pharmacy, and emergency medicine. No matter what you may need throughout your journey, you can count on us to be here to treat you, not just your cancer.

Fabio Petrocca, MD

Director of Cellular Therapy Program, Assistant Professor of Medicine

Special Interests

Hematologic malignancies

Adam Lerner, MD

Professor of Medicine and Pathology, Boston University School of Medicine

Reggie R Thomasson, MD

Medical Director of Blood Bank and Transfusion Medicine Service;
Associate Program Director, Pathology Residency Training Program

Margaux Dockerty

Diane Sarnacki

Bhavesh Shah

Mark Sloan