Univ. of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics shares findings on newer type of cancer treatment

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 6:16 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Doctors at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics say lives are being saved today thanks to research that started five years ago. It’s the result of a clinical trial into a newer type of cancer treatment.

CAR-T cell therapy is a way to alter someone’s immune system to better recognize cancer in the body and kill it faster and more effectively.

One patient to be a part of the clinical trial, Chris Ferenzi, remembers his first battle with cancer like it was yesterday.

“It was about 6 months of chemo, every three weeks I’d go for about 8 hours,” he told TV-9.

Once chemo was over, the cancer had seemed to go away. But then it came back. That’s when he was introduced to a clinical trial of CAR-T cell therapy.

“We were leaning towards hopefully getting at least a 50% chance of getting that CAR-T cell therapy and I was lucky enough to get chose for that arm of the study,” said Ferenzi.

That study was led by Dr. Umar Farooq. For five years they would study what happens when a patient’s own immune system is able to identify and destroy blood cancer.

And the results are in...

“For those patients who have failed chemotherapy, there’s an 80% chance that those people get into remission and historically you would expect around 20 to 25% chance of getting any remission,” said Dr. Farooq.

Not only are the success rates higher than ever, but it’s also proven to be quicker and less invasive than other forms of treatment.

“Usually from the time I see the patient to the time they are getting admitted for the treatment is about 5 weeks,” said Dr. Farooq.

Ferenzi was one of the first to try it back in February of 2019. This February will be the official five year anniversary for him.

“I just count that as my remission date so next year will be my 5 year remission and I just feel really great about that,” said Ferenzi.

Now that it’s a secondary option for those with blood cancer, researchers will continue to study it’s effect on others types of cancers. 6 new clinical trials are taking place right now including research on breast cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer.