What is axi-cel?
Axicabtagene ciloleucel (axi-cel), also known by the brand name YESCARTA™, is a treatment for aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). It is used when at least two other kinds of treatment have failed. Axi-cel is different from other cancer medicines because it is made from your own white blood cells, which have been modified to recognize and attack your lymphoma cells.
Who is eligible for axi-cel?
Key eligibility criteria include:
- Confirmed diagnosis of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, high-grade B-cell lymphoma, or DLBCL arising from follicular lymphoma that has either not responded to, or relapsed after, second or greater lines of systemic therapy. Therapy must have included a CD20 antibody and an anthracycline.
- Adequate organ, cardiac and pulmonary function (must meet established criteria/measures).
How will I receive axi-cel?
- Since axi-cel is made from your own white blood cells, your blood will be collected by a process called “leukapheresis” (LOO-kuh-feh-REE-sis), which will concentrate your white blood cells.
- Your blood cells will be sent to a manufacturing center to make your axi-cel.
- Before you get axi-cel, you will have three days of chemotherapy to prepare your body.
- When your axi-cel is ready, your care team will give it to you through a catheter placed into your vein (intravenous infusion). The infusion usually takes less than 30 minutes.
- You will be monitored daily for at least seven days after the infusion.
- You should plan to stay close to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) for at least four weeks after getting axi-cel. Your care team will help you with any side effects that may occur.
- You may be hospitalized for side effects and your healthcare provider will discharge you if your side effects are under control and it is safe for you to leave the hospital.
- Your care team will want to do blood tests to follow your progress. It is important that you have your blood tested. If you miss an appointment, call your care team as soon as possible to reschedule.
What if axi-cel is not appropriate for me?
This therapy is available for a select population of cancer patients. However, patients at SCCA have access to many different therapies, including other CAR T-cell therapies in clinical trials. You should talk with your care team about the most appropriate therapy for you.
Is CAR T-cell therapy used to treat other types of cancer?
Right now, the FDA has approved CAR T-cell therapy for adult patients with certain types of lymphoma and for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia that haven’t responded to other forms of treatment. Clinical trials of different CAR T-cell therapies are underway at SCCA, as we are pioneers in this new form of cancer treatment.
Will my insurance cover axi-cel?
Health insurers are preparing their coverage policies for this treatment. In the meantime, coverage will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, which is typical when new therapies are first approved. SCCA will do everything we can to seek health insurance coverage for clinically-eligible patients.