Behind the Scenes of a Radical New Cancer Cure

October 23, 2019

(Undark) – Today, two FDA-approved CAR-T products called Kymriah and Yescarta are available in more than 100 hospitals collectively across the U.S. Hundreds of clinical trials are tinkering with dosages, patient populations, and types of cancer. Some medical centers are manufacturing the cells on-site. The FDA approved CAR-T with a drug safety program called a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). As I cared for these patients, I quickly realized the FDA’s concerns. Of the 10 or so patients I’ve treated, more than half developed strange neurologic side effects ranging from headaches to difficulty speaking to seizures to falling unconscious. We scrambled to learn how to manage the side effects in real time.