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Refreshing the way we approach cancer therapy

02 May 2020
Volume 25 · Issue 5

While healthcare systems are being pushed to capacity, staff and resources are redirected to COVID-19 efforts, and operating theatres are being converted into intensive care units, many people living with cancer may face delays in receiving non-urgent treatment (Gardner, 2020). Those living with cancer also have lowered immunity and will need to take extra precautions during the ongoing pandemic (Cancer Research UK, 2020).

However, there have also been some relatively recent encouraging developments in cancer therapy, which may help to reframe the way cancer treatment is considered and approached. Immunotherapies are attracting increasing interest, making use of the patient's immune system to fight the cancer cells. Some of these therapies, including more novel agents, will be explored here.

First offered to patients in the UK in early 2019, chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy forms part of a newer class of medicines designated advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs). During CAR-T therapy, T-cells are removed from the patient's blood and genetically modified before being reinfused back into the patient once the new CAR-T cells have the ability to seek out and destroy the patient's exact type of cancer cells (Chappell, 2020; NHS, 2020).

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