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ATACK vs. CAR T-cell: A Comprehensive Comparison of Advanced Cancer Treatments

June 18, 2024
Shimon Slavin
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Immunotherapy is recognized as an innovative cancer treatment method, offering hope to patients worldwide. Two of the most promising developments in this field are ATACK (Allogeneic Targeted Activated Cancer Killers) and CAR-T cell therapy (Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cells). Both methods harness the patient’s immune system to combat cancer but operate differently.

How ATACK and CAR-T Therapy Work

ATACK involves donor lymphocytes intentionally mismatched to the patient’s cells. This mismatch helps the lymphocytes recognize cancer cells as foreign, triggering a powerful rejection-like response. Additionally, monoclonal antibodies against specific antigens found on the surface of malignant cells are used to target the cancer cells precisely.

CAR-T therapy uses the patient’s T-cells. These cells are extracted from the patient’s blood, multiplied in the laboratory, and then genetically modified to “recognize” the tumor. The modified cells are then infused back into the patient, enabling them to seek out and destroy cancer cells with the specific antigen.

Effectiveness of ATACK and CAR-T Therapy

ATACK has shown effectiveness in treating hematologic malignancies such as acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. In a clinical study conducted in an Israeli medical center, over 67% of patients achieved complete remission, with another 15% achieving partial remission. ATACK therapy achieves remission and even a complete cure when administered after the patient has reached the stage of minimal residual disease (MRD).

CAR-T therapy has proven effective in treating B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, achieving remission rates of 33% to 70%. Despite attempts to use CAR-T therapy against other types of tumors besides blood and lymph cancers, success has not yet been achieved in this area because of the variability of antigens on solid cancer cells.

On the other hand, ATACK holds great potential in combating solid tumors, as donor lymphocytes are inherently targeted to destroy malignant cells. When combined with monoclonal antibodies, they elicit an even more robust response.

Side Effects of ATACK and CAR-T Therapy

However, both therapies can have side effects. CAR-T therapy can cause serious side effects, including cytokine release syndrome (CRS in about 18.5% of patients) and neurotoxicity (ICANS; 21.7% of patients), which require careful management and may even result in admission to an intensive care unit. Rates of CRS and ICANS vary between different CAR-T products. Despite its high efficacy for specific cancers and the use of the patient’s cells, CAR-T therapy is complex and carries a high risk of severe side effects. Although highly threatening to the patient, hematologic toxicity, like prolonged neutropenia and the risk of severe infection, is frequently overlooked when discussing CAR-T treatment side effects.

ATACK has not shown serious side effects like graft-versus-host disease (when donor immune cells attack the host’s body cells), mainly because of the limited survival times of the donor lymphocytes inside the patient’s bloodstream. ATACK typically results in only mild to moderate side effects after administration, resembling cold or flu-like symptoms.

Cost and Availability of CAR-T Therapy and ATACK

Due to regulatory restrictions, ATACK treatment administration is only available in certain countries. CAR-T therapy is more accessible and is being offered as a licensed medical product in many medical centers across Europe, the US, and other parts of the world.

Cost is another important factor. CAR-T therapy is known for its high price, often exceeding $400,000 per treatment, primarily due to the complexity of producing genetically modified cells, which does not yet include complication management. ATACK, while still expensive, is significantly cheaper than CAR-T therapy because it does not involve the genetic modification of the patient’s T-cells. The exact cost can vary, but ATACK is generally more affordable, making it a viable option for more patients.

CAR-T Therapy or ATACK: Which to Choose?

Stay informed about these advanced cancer treatments. To receive personalized advice and explore your options, you are welcome to schedule a consultation at Biotherapy International. Understanding the mechanisms, effectiveness, side effects, cost, and availability of ATACK and CAR-T therapy can help you make an informed decision, offering new hope and potential paths to remission for cancer patients.

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