Emma NIcholson

The Royal Marsden has recently been approved by NHS England to deliver a new type of immunotherapy for patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T cell) therapy uses the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer.

It involves collecting the patient’s own T cells, genetically modifying them to express a novel antigen receptor to enhance their ability to target and kill cancer cells, and then reinfusing them into the patient. A Phase III trial at The Royal Marsden, ZUMA-7, is comparing CAR-T cell therapy with the current standard of care in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma that has relapsed or has been resistant to treatment.

Thomas Romain, 27, was randomised to the CAR-T cell arm of the ZUMA-7 trial after his non-Hodgkin lymphoma became resistant to standard first-line chemotherapy. He said: “When I found out that I was eligible for this trial and it may give me the chance to go into remission, I had to give it a go.”

Dr Emma Nicholson, Consultant Haematologist at The Royal Marsden, said: “CAR-T cell therapy has shown effectiveness in patients with multiply relapsed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma who are resistant to standard chemotherapy and have limited curative options.”

The Royal Marsden will expand the use of T cell therapies for patients with solid tumours later this year, with trials in melanoma due to open soon.