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CAR-T Cell Therapy Trials

T-Cell Research Linked to Serious Side Effects and Death

Thomas J. Henry is currently investigating reports of serious side effects and deaths linked to an experimental cancer treatment known as CAR-T cell therapy.

The treatment works by re-engineering a patient’s T cells – the cells that the immune system uses to eliminate possible health threats – with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) so that they zero in on specific antigens that exist on the surface of cancer cells.

Some scientists believe that by multiplying and injecting these re-engineered cells into patients diagnosed with cancer, they can create an altered immune system which will keep T cells on guard against cancer and that the cells will either prevent cancer growth or extinguish the disease entirely.

Unfortunately, clinical trials have shown that the procedure is not without risks.


In April 2014, Memorial Sloan-Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center was forced to suspend patient recruitment for an early-stage CAR-T cell study due to safety concerns. On April 6, the center revealed that patient deaths had occurred, spurring investigators to re-examine trial protocol and recruitment.

According to a presentation given at the American Association for Cancer Research in San Diego, 10 of the 22 patients enrolled in the study had died:

  • Six from disease relapse or progression
  • Two from complications experienced while in remission
  • Two within two weeks of receiving a CAR-T cell infusion


The following adverse events have been observed in patients receiving CAR-T cell therapy:

  • Fever
  • Cardiovascular instability
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation
  • Dyspnea
  • Acute lung injury
  • Hypotension
  • Cytokine-release syndrome
  • Death


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