Vanderbilt cancer center offers telehealth to CAR-T patients

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One of the top programs in the nation for cancer care has launched telemedicine services for patients receiving a new approach to treating the disease.

At Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, patients receiving chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) infusions—a treatment in which a patient’s genetics are modified—now can avoid hospital stays thanks to a new telehealth program.

CAR-T cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy that involves a one-time infusion of a patient’s own immune cells that have been genetically modified to recognize and attack cancer.

“Our goal is to use technology to do what is best for the patient,” says Olalekan Oluwole, assistant professor of medicine. “With this being new, we had to build in extra safety mechanisms, so we decided to provide this to only those patients staying sufficiently close by.”

According to Oluwole, patients need to be monitored most closely for the first month after receiving the one-time CAR-T infusion. The telemedicine program offers close-proximity monitoring of CAR-T patients, rather than long-distance care.

“Instead of being confined to a hospital room for a week or longer, patients stay within 30 miles of Vanderbilt University Medical Center,” states VUMC’s announcement. “Patients must still report to the hospital for twice-daily clinical visits before they receive a nightly telemedicine checkup in their homes or hotel rooms.”

Currently, there are two manufacturers that have CAR-T products available for certain forms of advanced cancers.

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved a CAR T-cell therapy for adults with certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In 2017, the FDA approved another CAR T-cell therapy for the treatment of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

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