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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?

    Coverage is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, as is typical for new therapies. 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).