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Frequently Asked Questions About CAR T-Cell Therapy for Multiple Myeloma

  • What is Abecma?

    Abecma is a type 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.

    The clinical trial of Abecma showed the CAR T-cell therapy to be highly effective with 72 percent of patients achieving deep and durable responses, including 28 percent who had a complete response (i.e., no sign of cancer) for a median of 19 months.

    Who is eligible to receive Abecma?

    Patients with multiple myeloma that is relapsed/refractory after four or more prior lines of treatment may be eligible to receive Abecma. Prior therapy must have included a proteasome inhibitor, an immunomodulatory drug, and an anti-CD 38 monoclonal antibody.

    As a first step, ask your oncologist for a referral to Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center's Multiple Myeloma Center 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).

    Where can I get CAR T-cell therapy for multiple myeloma?

    Because CAR T-cell therapy is a highly specialized and highly personalized treatment, it is available at a limited number of specialized cancer centers. Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center is an authorized center for Abecma. As a new product, there may be limited availability of Abecma. Your physician will discuss this with you and whether a clinical trial of another CAR T-cell product may be an option.

    Will my insurance cover this new treatment?

    Insurance 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 Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, our multiple myeloma program offers a wide range of clinical trials exploring several new treatment options. Your clinical team will work with you to determine if a clinical trial is an option for you.

    How does Abecma compare to other treatments that may be available to me?

    When a multiple myeloma patient's disease has relapsed or is not responding to multiple prior treatments, CAR T-cell therapy offers a new option. The clinical trial of Abecma demonstrated significantly better response rates and durations than currently available therapies for patients whose disease has relapsed or is refractory to multiple prior treatments.

    Participating in a clinical trial of a novel agent is another option for these patients. We recommend patient discuss CAR T-cell therapy and/or clinical trial participation with their oncologist.

    What will be the recommended follow up after I receive CAR T-cell therapy?

    Most patients have frequent follow-up appointments at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center. These are generally weekly for the first month following discharge from the hospital. After this period, the frequency of follow-up visits will decrease, depending on your recovery and the side effects you experience.