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St. Luke’s to open new clinic space dedicated to providing innovative CAR T-cell therapy to patients with blood cancers

By Christine Myron, Notes and Announcements
May 1, 2023

St. Luke’s is excited to announce the opening of a new dedicated space within St. Luke’s Cancer Institute that will allow for more eligible patients in Idaho and from nearby states to receive chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy.

St. Luke’s brought CAR T-cell therapy to Idaho in June 2022. The cutting-edge treatment can be used for types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

The new clinic space will begin treating patients on May 3.

CAR T-cell therapy products are made by collecting white cells from the patient and sending them to a lab where they are modified to attack a target on the patient’s cancer cells. The modified cells are sent back to St. Luke’s and infused into the patient as part of their cancer treatment plan.  

CAR T-cell therapy provides a potentially curative treatment option to patients who previously may have had only palliative treatment options. 

St. Luke’s has treated 11 patients since launching last summer, providing the therapy within a smaller, temporary space, which limited the number of patients who could be treated.  

The expanded, newly finished clinic space has been made available in large part through the generosity of ongoing charitable efforts, including a donation match underway through June 30 from the Treasure Valley-based Holland M. Ware Charitable Foundation.

“This new space has been specifically considered and created to offer CAR T-cell therapy, which means not only can we treat more patients, but patients no longer have to travel out of state, which was often a very inconvenient and expensive endeavor since the therapy requires patients to remain near the treatment facility for about 45 days and have a care companion travel and stay with them,” said Dr. Travis Williams, medical director of cellular therapy and hematologic malignancies at St. Luke’s Cancer Institute.

Today, CAR T-cell therapy is FDA-approved for the treatment of several types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“The future of CAR T-cell therapy being used to treat other cancer is very promising. 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,” Williams said.  

“As CAR T and other cellular therapies continues to prove its value, St. Luke’s will be in a good place to expand the cellular therapy to many other patients.”

Bringing this treatment to Idaho required St. Luke’s to pass rigorous quality and safety audits. St. Luke’s is one of only approximately 100 other centers in the nation that can provide this service.   

The St. Luke’s Health Foundation continues to fundraise to support the CAR T-cell therapy program. If the St. Luke’s Health Foundation raises $250,000 in donations for CAR T-cell therapy by June 30, the Holland M. Ware Charitable Foundation will make a $500,000 donation.

To donate, please visit our online donation page or call the St. Luke’s Health Foundation at 208-505-2981. 

About The Author

Christine Myron is the Treasure Valley public relations manager for St. Luke’s Health System.