car-t cell therapy now available at Sheba Medical Center

Sheba Medical Center Offers CAR-T Cell Therapy to Patients with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

Since 2016, cutting-edge CAR-T Cell Therapy in Israel has been provided at Sheba as a treatment for leukemia (ALL) and lymphoma (NHL). Now, the Tel HaShomer hospital offers CAR-T therapy for patients with multiple myeloma. As part of a clinical trial, Sheba is also the first medical facility worldwide to pioneer the use of CAR-T cell therapy to treat acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) with 8;21 translocation and CD19 expression. Cancer patients who had exhausted all lines of treatment face a promising new option.

CAR-T cell therapy is a revolutionary, individualized immune cell therapy used to treat cancer. To administer this state-of-the-art treatment at Sheba Medical Center, a doctor first extracts blood from the patient and sends it to the on-site Oncology Training Laboratories. Presently, Sheba is the only center in Israel that has a lab for preparing and engineering CAR-T cells.

At this highly specialized lab, the T-cells, a type of immune cell, are separated from the rest of the blood cells and genetically engineered to produce CARs (chimeric antigen receptors). The modified T-cells are given time to multiply in the laboratory until there is a sufficient amount to inject back into the patient. Now though, as a result of the CARs, the T-cells behave differently – they are programmed with the ability to identify, target, and destroy tumor cells.

While the T-cells reproduce in Sheba’s laboratory, chemotherapy is delivered to the patient to suppress their immune system. This is done to help maximize the efficiency of the modified T-cells once they are injected into the patient. Altogether, the CAR-T cell therapy process takes approximately 10 days, and patients generally remain hospitalized for about two weeks for observation.

The first child with leukemia to be treated with CAR-T cell therapy in Israel achieved total remission. Since then, the success rates for achieving remission have been 85-90% in young children, approximately 80% in teenagers, and approximately 70% in the total adult population.

In October 2019, a ceremony was held to mark 100 patients treated with CAR-T cell therapy at Sheba Medical Center. In the words of Prof. Yitzhak Kreiss, Director of Sheba Medical Center, “[This] ceremony represents a transition from vision to courage – the creation of a world where CAR-T cell therapy becomes a standard part of the institutional care we offer to patients. This treatment is a connection between science and research, between laboratory capabilities and regulation, and most importantly – between all of the above and the patient. That’s our wonderful story – a tale of partnership and progress.”

Now, Sheba is excited to promote the availability of CAR-T cell therapy for patients with multiple myeloma. Additionally, patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) with 8;21 translocation and CD19 expression, can receive the immune cell therapy as part of a clinical trial at Sheba. Sheba is the first and currently the only medical center in the world to offer CAR-T therapy for AML.

Prof. Arnon Nagler, head of Bone Marrow Transplant

Prof. Arnon Nagler

Prof. Arnon Nagler, Director of Hematology, announces, “The ground-breaking CAR-T treatment that was applied at Sheba for over 100 patients suffering from ALL or NHL, is now approved for use in patients with multiple myeloma as part of a clinical trial. Moreover, Sheba is the first medical center in the world to pioneer CAR-T therapy application for AML patients with 8;21 translocation and CD19 expression. Patients interested in undergoing this innovative treatment at Sheba will be offered a full diagnostic procedure to determine whether this treatment is a suitable option for them.”