CAR-T therapy in Israel: treatment of multiple myeloma, acute leukemia and lymphoma has become even more accessible

CAR-T therapy in Israel (kymriah)

After clinical trials in the United States, Europe and United Kingdom, Health Ministry of Israel has approved a new immunotherapyCAR-T therapy for the treatment of blood cancer and lymphoma.

Results of the research group at the National Cancer Institute and other American and European cancer centers showed complete cure of more than 70% of patients with refractory and recurrent leukemia. Currently CAR-T therapy is the most modern method of immunotherapy.


How does CAR-T therapy work?

Originally developed in Israel by prof. Zelib Eshhar, head of  Immunotherapy Laboratory at Ichilov Medical Center, CAR-T therapy is a type of immunotherapy where the patient’s own T-cells (white blood cells) eliminate cancer cells.

Before starting treatment, taken T-cells from patient’s blood are grown in a laboratory, and reprogrammed to produce chimeric antigen receptors. After these modified T-cells injected back to the blood for training the human immune system to recognize and destroy the tumor in the body.

Who is CAR-T therapy for? What kind of cancer does this treat?

What are the stages of CAR-T treatment or Kymriah?

  • Using apheresis, a small amount of lymphocytes is extracted from a patient’s blood sample.
  • The collected T-cells are sent for preparation to a special certified laboratory.
  • In the laboratory genetic engineers directly modify lymphocytes and attach to a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). In this way, T-cells is trained to eliminate cancer cells. The preparation process itself may take two to three weeks.
  • For successful absorption of grown CAR T-cells  in the body, preliminary short chemotherapy is performed.
  • Within an hour, T-cells infused back  by intravenous drip. After the infusion, the patient remains in Medical center for 10-15 days to monitor the treatment course.


What side effects of CAR-T therapy (kymriah) treatment may be?

40-60% have side effects from treatment that are reversible. They may include a cold fever-like symptoms:

  • chils;
  • headache;
  • dyspnea;
  • lowering blood pressure;
  • seizures.

In exceptional cases, some side effects require treatment in the intensive care unit.


Where can you get CAR-T therapy in Israel?

At the moment leukemia treatment is carried out only in a few medical centers in the world, mainly in the United States. And now, after passing through the certification for CAR-T therapy, it is also available at Sheba Hospital and Ichilov Medical Centers in Israel. These centers include not only medical buildings, but also research laboratories, where they are permanently studying and improving cancer treatment methods.

CAR-T treatment can be performed at the Institute of Hematology, Suraski Medical Center (Ichilov), Tel-Aviv under the guidance of experienced hematologists – prof. Ella Naparstek, prof. Irit Avivi and dr. Odelia Gur, as well as in the hemato-oncology department at Sheba Medical Center under the guidance of prof. Amos Toren, prof. Arnon Nagler and dr. Elad Jacoby.

These medical centers have a doctors team who specializes in CAR-T therapy. They are experienced in the treatment process, and also reduce the risk of side effects.

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