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What is CAR T-cell therapy?
  1. Kayleigh Kew
  1. Central Executive Team, Cochrane, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Ms Kayleigh Kew, Central Executive Team, Cochrane, London, UK; kkew{at}


The emergence of targeted and precision therapies has increased treatment options for people living with cancer. Of particular note is the development and approval of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies that involve the use of a patient’s own immune system to treat cancers that have proven resistant to other approaches. Keeping abreast of treatment changes and practice guidelines is a challenge for all healthcare professionals, and the pressure of doing so becomes most acute with innovations in cancer therapeutics that have the potential to extend or save lives. Though uncommon, step changes like CAR T-cell therapy pose a challenge, often requiring completely new ways of thinking about efficacy evidence, basic science, ethics and service delivery. At a time when patients are able and empowered to readily access information about novel and exploratory treatments, healthcare professionals need to feel informed enough to help patients with life-changing or life-limiting cancers who approach them for advice. This article gives an overview of the basic principles of CAR T-cell therapy including how it is delivered, who is eligible to receive it in the UK, and a brief outline of current evidence of its efficacy and safety. The information is intended to provide healthcare professionals with an introduction to CAR T-cell therapy to help them advise potentially eligible patients or those already undergoing treatment about what to expect.

  • drug-related side effects and adverse reactions
  • medical oncology
  • primary health care
  • tertiary healthcare
  • therapeutics

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  • Competing interests None declared. Refer to the online supplementary files to view the ICMJE form(s).

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.