Lymphoma in Remission Thanks to New Form of Immunotherapy at Hackensack University Medical Center

Mantle Cell Lymphoma Patient Case Study Demonstrates Powerful Impact of CAR T-Cell Therapy

Hackensack Meridian John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center is one of the few sites offering chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy—a highly promising form of personalized immunotherapy for certain blood cancers—and has been involved in CAR T-cell research for nearly a decade.

Clinical trials of CAR T-cells in blood cancers have shown that even in patients whose cancer came back after multiple treatments, CAR T-cell therapy helped them achieve remissions that lasted for years.

Alain Fortier, 61, represents one such successful case. Diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma in May 2012, he began receiving intensive combination chemotherapy followed by an autologous stem cell transplant. Mantle cell lymphoma often returns following treatment, and Alain’s did multiple times. He received additional chemotherapy and drug treatments at a local cancer center.

In 2017, his wife, Marie, read about the ZUMA-2 study of CAR T-cell therapy. Alain and Marie met with Andre Goy, M.D., M.S., chairman and director of John Theurer Cancer Center, and Alain decided to enroll.

Alain received the CAR T-cell treatment in June 2017. One month after the infusion, a scan showed a 30 percent reduction in the size of his lymph nodes. Two months later, there was no evidence of cancer in his body—a finding that has repeated itself every 90 days since.

In all, 67 percent of patients in the multicenter ZUMA-2 study achieved the same results: a complete response, meaning no evidence of disease. In addition, 40 percent of patients who initially had a partial response or stable disease (no reduction in cancer, but also no growth) went on to achieve a complete response within three to 12 months of the CAR T-cell infusion. After a median follow-up of 12.3 months, 57 percent of patients remained in remission, an unprecedented rate for this patient population.

Two other forms of CAR T-cell therapy were previously approved by the FDA to treat other types of cancer. The new treatment was the first to be evaluated in people with mantle cell lymphoma. In July 2020, the FDA approved this CAR T-cell therapy for people with mantle cell lymphoma. The treatment is under continued study and expected to be approved for other types of blood cancer.

Learn More about cancer treatment innovations at Hackensack University Medical Center.
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