The purpose of this study is to evaluate a new treatment for patients with advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) that has not responded to treatment or has returned after treatment. The treatment involves an investigational therapy which uses a patient’s own immune cells, called “T cells,” to kill tumor cells. These T cells are removed from the blood, modified in the laboratory, and then returned to the patient’s body.
T cells help the body fight infections. These cells can also kill cancer cells in some cases. In patients with advanced CLL, however, the T cells are unable to kill the cancer cells. For this reason, investigators will modify each patient’s T cells by inserting a gene into them that enables them to better recognize and kill leukemia cells. This gene allows the T cells to make a protein that helps them recognize leukemia cells and possibly kill them.
Researchers have already observed that T cells modified in this way were able to cure a cancer similar to CLL in mice. The main goal of this study is to find a safe dose of modified T cells to give to patients with advanced refractory or recurrent CLL.