CAR T-Cell Therapy

CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T-cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy. It uses a person’s own genetically modified T cells to find and kill cancer cells.

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is one of a small group of children's hospitals that offers this treatment.

We use KYMRIAH®, an FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapy for children and young adults with relapsed or refracted B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

What is CAR T-Cell Therapy?

T-cells are a type of white blood cell that can fight infection and disease. When a T-cell sees something as a threat — like a virus — it attacks and destroys it to keep the body healthy.

The goal of CAR T-cell therapy is to direct engineered T-cells to attack and destroy cancer cells.

During CAR T-cell therapy, doctors:

  • Extract your child’s own T-cells from his or her blood and send them to the lab
  • Genetically alter the cells to express a CAR that binds to a protein on the surface of the cancer cells.
  • Infuse the altered T-cells back into your child, where they increase in number over a few weeks and hopefully destroy cancer cells.

CAR T-cell therapy can cause serious side effects. Your child will stay with us for one to two weeks after the infusion so we can watch for any issues.

Refer a Patient for CAR T-Cell Therapy

To refer a patient for CAR T-cell therapy at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, call 412-692-6740.

Learn more about blood disorder and cancer care at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.