In May 2019, The Christie began treating patients using a treatment called Chimeric Antigen Receptors Cell Therapy (CAR-T).
News of this revolutionary new cell manufacturing treatment appeared on both ITV Granada Reports as well as in national and local newspapers.
CAR-T involves removing immune cells and modifying them in a laboratory to recognise cancer cells. The NHS approved the treatment for appropriate and eligible patients last year.
Immune cells, called T-cells, are taken from a sample of the patient's blood. They are then reprogrammed in a lab to create ones that are genetically coded to recognise and destroy the patient's cancer cells.
This ’living therapy’ is then given to the patient.
One patient who has benefitted from CAR-T is 24-year-old leukaemia patient, Sophie Mulligan.
Sophie received the treatment at The Christie in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. She then recovered so well that she is now back at home and looking forward to planning her wedding to partner Alex.
Sophie, who lives in Huyton, Liverpool with mum Melanie, dad Ian, and younger sister Eve, said: “CAR-T cell therapy brought hope when I thought that there were no options left for me.
“Now Alex and I can begin house hunting and planning our wedding, which will give our family and friends something to look forward to after a tough 5 years."
First Sophie’s blood was taken and sent off to a laboratory in the United States of America, where her blood was ‘trained’ to fight the cancer cells. The CAR-T blood was then transported back to The Christie and Sophie was administered with it to treat her condition.
Speaking about having her treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sophie said: “To be told that my treatment was still going ahead during the COVID-19 pandemic brought very mixed emotions.
“I was glad to be dealing with the leukaemia, however I was afraid of possible exposure to the virus. However the team at The Christie were phenomenal.
“They put my mind at ease as soon as I arrived onto the ward, and despite being unable to have visitors, the staff made sure that I never felt alone and that all of my needs were taken care of – they are all amazing."