The Pacific Northwest has a top performer for CAR T therapies and stem cell transplants

OHSU’s immunotherapy and cell transplant team has earned national recognition for its expertise and experience providing CAR T-cell therapy — the breakthrough treatment for children with leukemia and for adults with certain hard-to-treat blood cancers.

Emerging Therapy Solutions, a firm that helps healthcare payers manage the risks associated with high-cost therapies, analyzed volume and outcomes data to determine which providers have the most experience with CAR T-cell therapy and with stem cell transplants. The two treatment options require similarly rigorous clinical resources, infrastructures and expertise, the company said.

Image: T lymphocyte killing a cancer cell by Odra Noel

“By identifying the providers most equipped to administer the procedures, and to anticipate and manage the inherently high risks, we can help case managers and payers navigate the options to find the most promising treatment facilities, and plan and price accordingly,” company CEO David J. McLean, Ph.D., said in a news release.

OHSU made the grade as a “program of experience” offering the deepest expertise to cost-effectively evaluate, prescribe, treat and manage the therapies.

In CAR T-cell therapy, the patient’s immune T cells are isolated from blood and equipped with the gene for a special receptor — a chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR — that binds to a specific protein on the patient’s cancer cells. Large numbers of the CAR T cells are grown in the laboratory and given to the patient by infusion.

The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute has been at the forefront of clinical trials with CAR T therapies. It was the first in the Northwest to offer patients Kymriah, the first CAR T-cell therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration. A Knight Cancer Institute doctor co-led the first study to outline Kymriah’s long-term effectiveness, and Knight Cancer doctors helped lead the clinical trial showing that CAR T-cell therapy for lymphoma not only extends survival but may improve quality of life after treatment.

The Knight’s immunotherapy and cell transplant team has performed more than 4,500 bone marrow and stem cell transplants in adults and children, putting OHSU among the top 20 centers in the U.S. by number of procedures. Specialists here offer the region’s most complete care, with therapies that aren’t available elsewhere in Oregon.