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Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. It has been established as a promising treatment strategy for some types of cancer, and many studies are currently attempting to treat brain tumors using immunotherapy. Early studies demonstrated great success in using immunotherapy to treat glioblastoma. Clinical trials using immunotherapy to treat DIPG/DMG patients are underway and showing promise.

T-cells originate in the bone marrow but are aged in the thymus gland. They are vital in activating the immune system to respond and kill abnormal cells. Adoptive cell transfer (ACT) is an evolving immunotherapy approach that includes collecting a patient’s immune cells, growing large numbers of these cells in the lab, and then giving the cells back to the patient through a needle in their vein. The type of ACT used in DIPG/DMG is chimeric antigen receptor therapy (CAR-T).  

The process for CAR-T cell therapy works by drawing blood from the patient, separating out white blood cells, then reengineering them to attack a specific protein in cancer cells before infusing them back into the body.

While initial results have shown promise, the procedure can cause the body to react excessively, leading to difficult side effects. Be sure to have a thorough discussion with your doctor about potential side effects.