Cellular Therapy to Combat Blood Cancer

Headshot of Dr. Tom Kouroukis

As cancer care continues to advance with groundbreaking scientific discoveries and innovative new medical procedures, Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre stays on the leading edge of treatment for patients with blood cancers.

“The newest form of cellular therapy we’re conducting is CAR (Chimeric Antigen Receptor) T-cell therapy,” explains Dr. Tom Kouroukis, Chair of the Hematology Disease Site Group at Juravinski Cancer Centre. “We were privileged to be one of the first two sites for adult CAR T-cell therapy in Canada.”

This innovative new therapy is currently being used for patients with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and relapsed large B-cell lymphoma.

Advancements in care

“T cells, which are one of our immune cells, are isolated and collected from the patient,” says Dr. Kouroukis. “The T cells are then modified so they can differentiate between normal cells and cancer cells in the patient.”

“Cancer treatments have continued to improve and the outcome for patients in general is so much better than what it was 10 or 15 years ago.”

A culture of these modified T cells is grown in a lab and then introduced back into the patient. These cells now recognize and attack cancer cells in the patient’s body without the use of medications that may bring unwanted side effects.

“Cancer treatments have continued to improve and the outcome for patients in general is so much better than what it was 10 or 15 years ago,” says Dr. Kouroukis. “It’s very rewarding when we see our patients’ health improving, and it is most gratifying when we are able to cure a patient of their blood disease.”