CAR-T Cell Therapy

Immunotherapy enhances the power of a patient’s immune system to attack tumors. An immunotherapy approach, called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, uses patients’ own immune cells to treat their cancer.

CAR-T cell therapy provides engineered molecules called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) that recognize and destroy antigens present on the surface of lymphoma cells. T cells are removed from patients and genetically modified to produce CARs. The genetically engineered CAR-T cells are grown in the laboratory until they number in the billions and are then infused back into the patient.

CAR T-Cell Process

1. Leukapheresis

Your T cells are obtained through a process called leukapheresis, which usually takes three to four hours.

  • Your blood is removed through an IV.
  • Your blood is then passed through a machine that separates your T cells from the other blood cells.
  • The rest of your blood cells are returned to your body.

3. CAR-T Cell Transport

Once enough of the CAR-T cells are available at the processing center, the cells are frozen for transport to your certified treatment center.

5. CAR-T Infusion

A few days after completing chemotherapy, you will receive your CAR-T cells at your certified treatment center.

  • The infusion of CAR-T cells takes less than one hour.
  • You may be given acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) before the infusion to prevent or relieve some of the possible side effects.

2. T-Cell Engineering

The T cells are sent to a processing center where they are genetically engineered to target your lymphoma.

  • The enhanced cells now have chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) that allow the T cells to better recognize your cancer cells.
  • The CAR on the surface of the T cells specifically binds to a protein on lymphoma cells.

4. Chemotherapy

A few days prior to your CAR-T cell infusion, you will receive low-dose chemotherapy.

  • The chemotherapy suppresses the immune system slightly so that it does not react to your CAR-T cells.
  • It gives the CAR-T cells the chance to grow and fight your lymphoma.

6. CAR-T Cells Attack the Lymphoma 

Once the CAR-T cells enter your body, they begin to multiply and attack the lymphoma cells.

  • It is important to remain closely observed by your healthcare team so that you can be monitored for side effects.

Approved CAR-T Cell Therapies in Lymphoma

Approved CAR-T Cell therapies include:

  • Axicabtagene Ciloleucel (Yescarta)
  • Treatment targeting CD19 for patients with certain types of relapsed/refractory large B-cell lymphoma after at least two other kinds of treatment. (DLBCL not otherwise specified; primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma; high-grade B-cell lymphoma; DLBCL arising from FL).
  • For the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma (FL) after two or more lines of systemic therapy
  • Brexucabtagene Autoleucel (Tecartus)
  • Treatment targeting CD19 for patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).
  • Lisocabtagene Maraleucel (Breyanzi)
  • Treatment targeting CD19 for patients with certain types of large B-cell lymphoma, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) not otherwise specified (including DLBCL arising from indolent lymphoma), high-grade B-cell lymphoma, primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, and follicular lymphoma grade 3B, who have not responded to, or who have relapsed after, at least two other types of systemic treatment.
  • Tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah)
  • Treatment targeting CD19 for patients with certain types of relapsed/refractory large B-cell lymphoma after two or more lines of systemic therapy. (DLBCL not otherwise specified; high grade B-cell lymphoma; DLBCL arising from FL)


To learn more about CAR-T cell therapy, download the CAR-T Cell Fact Sheet.