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Frequently Asked Questions About CAR T-Cell Therapy for Lymphoma

  • What are Yescarta and Kymriah?

    Yescarta and Kymriah are types of cellular therapy called CAR T-cell therapy. CAR T-cell therapy uses specially altered T cells — a part of the immune system — to fight cancer. A sample of a patient's T cells are collected from the blood, then modified to produce special structures called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) on their surface. When these CAR T cells are reinfused into the patient, the new receptors enable them to latch onto a specific antigen on the patient's tumor cells and kill them. Learn more about how CAR T-cell therapy works.

    Clinical trials of Yescarta showed that 82 percent of patients with treatment-resistant or relapsed aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma responded to the CAR T-cell therapy, including 54 percent who had a complete response (i.e. no sign of cancer). In the latest data report, 40 percent remained in complete remission a median of 15.4 months after treatment.

    In clinical trials of Kymriah for lymphoma, patients had strong responses. 53 percent of patients responded to treatment, and 40 percent achieved a complete response (i.e. no sign of cancer).

    How do Kymriah and Yescarta compare?

    Kymriah and Yescarta are CAR T-cell therapies targeting CD19, an antigen that is prevalent in the cells of many B-cell malignancies such as DLBCL. Both products demonstrated strong responses from patients in clinical trials and have been approved by the FDA as standard of care for relapsed/refractory patients. They differ in the way that the CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) is designed to activate the T cell response to attack the cancer.

    Who is eligible to receive these approved CAR T-cell therapies?

    Yescarta and Kymriah are appropriate for some patients with some forms of aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma who have not responded to at least two prior lines of therapy (refractory). This may include patients with diffuse large B cell lymphoma, primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, high grade B-cell lymphoma, or transformed follicular lymphoma.

    As a first step, ask your oncologist for a referral to DF/BWCC's Adult Lymphoma Program to determine if CAR T-cell therapy is an appropriate approach to your care. All patients must have a physician referral. Contact us at 877-801-CART (2278) or cartinquiries@dfci.harvard.edu.

    Where are these therapies available?

    Because CAR T-cell therapy is a highly specialized and highly personalized treatment, it is available at a limited number of specialized cancer centers. DF/BWCC is an authorized center for both Kymriah and Yescarta.

    Will my insurance cover this new treatment?

    Health insurers are preparing their coverage policies for this treatment. In the meantime, coverage is reviewed on a case-by-case basis as is typical when new therapies are first approved. We work with patients and insurers to seek health insurance coverage for clinically-eligible patients.

    What if CAR T-cell therapy isn't right for me? What are my options?

    Another option may be to participate in a clinical trial. At DF/BWCC, our lymphoma program offers a wide range of clinical trials exploring several new treatment options. This includes other CAR T-cell therapies, as well as other promising treatments. Your clinical team will work with you to determine if a clinical trial is an option for you.

    For more information, read our general Frequently Asked Questions About CAR T-cell Therapy.

  • Dana-Farber/ Brigham and Women's Cancer Center
  • Contact Information for CAR T-Cell Therapy

    For more information about CAR T-cell therapy, please call 877-801-CART (2278) or email cartinquiries@dfci.harvard.edu.

  • Pediatric CAR T-Cell Therapy

    Dana-Farber/Boston Children's is a certified treatment center for providing the recently FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapy called KYMRIAH to patients who are up to 25 years old with second or later relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).