Dedicated individuals

Dr. Isabelle Fleury


CAR-T cells or the birth of a new therapeutic era

CAR-T cell therapy marks the beginning of a new therapeutic era. It offers a personalised therapy that capitalises on the patient’s own immune system.Isabelle Fleury

Dre Isabelle Fleury, Hémato-oncologue à l'HMRSince the fall of 2019, the Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (HMR) has — and it is a first in Canada — a revolutionary new treatment option for blood cancer: CAR1-T-Cells.

Unique in Canada

This program, led by the team of Dr. Isabelle Fleury, hemato-oncologist and head of the Lymphoma Clinic at HMR, breaks new ground by combining the patient’s immune cells with innovative genetic modification technology. 

A therapeutic alternative

Normally, these cancers are eradicated by chemotherapy or radiotherapy. A stem cell transplant can complete the treatment. In this case, the patient’s immune system is replaced by that of the donor. However, sometimes this is not enough, and the cancer comes back.

With CAR-T cell therapy, white blood cells or, more precisely, T-lymphocytes, which normally assist the immune system in fighting infections, are used. In the case of CAR-T therapy, these cells are extracted and then, through genetic manipulation, they are modified to recognize cancer cells. Then, we multiply them to get enough to fight the cancer. Once ready, we reinject the patient with his or her own cells, which are now modified and “armed” to destroy the cancer cells.

What’s next?

HMR is the only centre to offer this treatment option to adult patients whose disease is refractory to conventional treatments. Currently, the genetic manipulation is done in the United States and the final product is returned to the HMR for infusion, where the bag of cells is injected into the patient’s veins. The HMR is working to ensure that the whole process of genetic manipulation can be performed within
its own Centre for Excellence in Cellular Therapy (CECT) — funded in part by the Foundation — in the near future.

Read the 2019 Annual Report

1CAR stands for Chimeric Antigen Receptor