A newly established space at St. Luke’s Cancer Institute in Boise will soon be able to offer more patients with certain types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cutting-edge cell therapy called CAR T (Chimeric antigen receptor). CAR T is a type of cellular therapy for cancer treatment in which a patient's T-cells (the type of immune cells that can fight cancer cells) have instruction put into their genes in a laboratory that makes them able to attack and kill the patient’s cancer cells.
The new and specifically designed CAR T treatment space at St. Luke’s will help expand the program, which started in Boise in June 2022, in large part thanks to the generosity of community donors. With additional fundraising needed to cover the cost of the equipment used for the specific treatment and the new treatment space, Treasure Valley-based Holland M. Ware Charitable Foundation (HMWCF) and St. Luke’s will kick off a donation drive with a goal of raising a total of “$250K in 100 Days.” HMWCF has agreed to donate $500,000 to St. Luke’s Cancer Institute once a $250,000 match has been completed between March 23, 2023 and June 30, 2023, allowing St. Luke’s 100 days to complete the challenge.
Since bringing CAR T to Idaho, St. Luke’s has treated 10 people with the cutting-edge therapy. Prior to offering the treatment, patients eligible for CAR T would need to travel out of state and remain there for approximately 45 days along with a care companion, requiring them to be away from home and incur the significant cost of travel and lodging.
Today, CAR T Cell Therapy is FDA-approved for the treatment of several types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It is in advanced clinical trials for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia, and early research trials for a number of cancers like breast cancer, colon cancer, brain cancer, and lung cancer.
In December 2021, HMWCF generously offered a charitable giving match for community donations for the CAR T program at St. Luke’s and extended and increased its match in January 2022. St. Luke’s has a $2.5 million philanthropic goal for CAR T.
Donations toward this challenge drive are currently being accepted. Make a donation online, or call the St. Luke’s Health Foundation at 208-505-2981.
With $250,000 in donations received by June 30, 2023, The Holland M. Ware Charitable Foundation will make a $500,000 donation toward CAR T at St. Luke’s.
Christine Myron is the Treasure Valley public relations manager for St. Luke’s Health System.