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Steve Johnson, patient

A Lincolnshire man who underwent revolutionary cancer treatment in a last ditch attempt to save his life is now cancer free.

Steve Johnson - CAR-T

Steve Johnson was working as a care worker when he started to get pains in his bones. In a double blow he was diagnosed with a grade four tumour in his left kidney and leukaemia.

Steve underwent treatment but two years later in March 2018 he relapsed with the leukaemia. Chemo was used to get Steve back into remission, but his liver then rejected another drug he was using.

“I was basically told there was nothing else that could be done as far as conventional medicines were concerned. And it was at this point my consultant told me about a new trial that was taking place known as CAR-T cell therapy. For me it was the last chance saloon.” Steve explained.

“I have absolutely no doubt this treatment saved my life and without it I would not be here today.”


CAR-T cell therapy

Immune cells (T cells) circulate around our blood stream seeking out and destroying any alien intruders, such as infections. But because cancer cells evolve from our own cells, the T cells don’t always identify cancer cells as intruders, and leave them alone.

CAR-T cell therapy works by re-engineering the patient's own immune cells. It re-programmes a patient’s T cells to seek out and destroy the cancer. This is done by taking blood from the patient, removing the immune cells, then sending them off to a specialist lab where they are engineered to express a molecule on their surface (a Chimeric Antigen Receptor, or CAR) that enables the T cells to target the cancer.

These are then grown in huge numbers over a few weeks, so they can then be infused back into the patient’s bloodstream.