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Laurie Adami had a tough case of follicular lymphoma (FL), an incurable non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that is a cousin of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Her success and that of others helped in the approval of the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy axicabtagene ciloleucel (axi-cel) for follicular lymphoma.
Laurie has written a great article for us on her CAR-T experience: My Wild Cancer Adventure with Follicular NHL.
In celebration of the March 5, 2021, FDA approval of the CAR-T cell therapy (axi-cel) for the treatment of adults with relapsed/refractory follicular lymphoma after two or more lines of treatment, Laurie and her doctor, Dr. Sven de Vos were interviewed concerning the ZUMA-5 CAR-T trial in this UCLA Health article.
There is good reason to believe that axi-cel would work well for CLL patients because its target in follicular lymphoma, namely CD19, is also found on CLL cells and is the same target of liso–cel that has proven so successful in the TRANSCEND CLL trials, described here in combination with ibrutinib and here without.
CLL Society welcomes another approval of cellular therapy in a related B cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, not only because, as Laurie’s story so beautifully illustrates, CAR-T can produce deep, durable remissions, but also, more selfishly, because the more positive experiences that patients and doctors have with CAR-T therapy, the more likely we are to see it used with comfort and success to treat CLL in the not-too-distant future.
Today, CLL patients can only access CAR-T therapy through a clinical trial.
Finally, we can hope that as more and more patients have longer and longer remissions, CAR-T therapy will eventually be proven curative for some in many different cancers including CLL and FL.
We are all in this together.
Brian Koffman MDCM (retired) MS Ed
Co-Founder, Executive VP and Chief Medical Officer
CLL Society, Inc.