Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is an authorized treatment center for Tecartus (brexucabtagene autoleucel).
What Is Tecartus?
Tecartus™ is an FDA-approved immunotherapy — a treatment designed to help your own immune system fight cancer. Specifically, it is a type of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. It strengthens and multiplies your T cells, the special white blood cells in your body that have the power to destroy cancer cells.
Who Is Eligible?
Tecartus is for adults who have been diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma — a rare type of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma — that has either relapsed (gone into remission and then returned) or is refractory (has not gone into remission despite treatment).
In addition, the Roswell Park medical team must determine whether the patient is fit enough to undergo this type of immunotherapy.
How Does Tecartus Work?
T lymphocytes, or T cells, are a type of white blood cell. They’re part of your immune system and help protect you from illness by either destroying harmful foreign cells, such as bacteria or viruses, or by regulating the work of immune system cells.
In this treatment, some of your T cells are collected through leukapheresis, an outpatient procedure that is very much like donating blood. The cells are sent to a laboratory, where circulating tumor cells are filtered out in process called white blood cell enrichment. Then a gene is added to strengthen your T cells’ ability to find and kill cancer cells. Next, the cells are multiplied to become millions and millions of cancer-fighting T cells before they are sent back to Roswell Park.
In the meantime, you will receive chemotherapy for three days to make room in your body for the new, stronger immune cells. Then your Roswell Park team will give the reengineered cells back to you intravenously (through an IV).
You will be watched closely for at least seven days afterward so that the team can watch for signs of any side effects and step in quickly to manage them. For four to eight weeks after receiving Tecartus, you should stay near Roswell Park for continued monitoring. (Some hotels and medical hospitality houses in Buffalo offer special lodging rates for out-of-town patients who travel to Roswell Park for treatment.)
What Have Clinical Trials Shown About Tecartus?
The FDA approves new treatments based on the results of clinical trials — research studies in which the treatments are given to patient volunteers for the very first time. The Tecartus approval was granted based on the results of a study involving 60 patients who received the treatment at different participating centers. Of those, 87% responded to a single infusion, with 62% achieving a complete response (no detectable evidence of cancer).
What Are the Side Effects of Tecartus?
The most common side effect of CAR T-cell immunotherapy, cytokine release syndrome (CRS), occurs when there is a very strong response by the immune system. Among other symptoms, patients may experience fever, nausea, diarrhea, low blood pressure, fast heartbeat, difficulty speaking or slurred speech, confusion or low red or white blood cell counts. Although symptoms are mild in most patients, in some cases, CRS may be serious and even life-threatening. Patients may also experience serious neurological reactions. Your Roswell Park team will discuss these side effects with you before you begin treatment.
In most cases, serious side effects occur within two to four weeks after treatment. You will need to stay close to Roswell Park for several weeks so you can be watched closely for signs of these side effects and they can be managed effectively.
Why Roswell Park?
- Patients receive CAR T-cell therapy in our Transplant and Cellular Therapy (TCT) Center, where members of the medical team have significant experience in recognizing and managing the side effects of immunotherapies. Our team includes national leaders who helped develop the guidelines for managing the side effects of cellular therapies.
- The Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) has accredited Roswell Park as both an adoptive cellular therapy program and a bone marrow transplant (BMT) program. This indicates that Roswell Park adheres to strict standards and works constantly to achieve the best patient outcomes.
- Every patient who comes here for cellular therapy is monitored by a team of experts. The team meets every week, monitoring the patient’s status to ensure the best possible care.
Will My Insurance Cover Tecartus?
Please contact your insurer directly to find out whether or not Tecartus is covered by your specific plan.
What If I’m Not Eligible for Tecartus?
Our experts can identify all the options available to you, including any FDA-approved therapies and new treatments offered through clinical trials. Roswell Park is one of very few centers in the United States equipped to offer clinical trials of a full range of immunotherapies, including many that were developed right here. We are home to one of the largest phase 1 clinical trials programs in New York State.