CAR T-Cell therapy shows promise in cancer treatment

Posted at 5:12 PM, Aug 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-03 20:29:37-04

A San Diego man is cancer-free thanks to a new treatment that trains cells to find and destroy cancer.

Robert Legaspi has battled leukemia multiple times in his life, and the treatments he received, including chemotherapy, were just not working.

"There were times I wanted to give up," the 27-year-old told 10News.

Earlier this year, Legaspi was presented with a new treatment known as CAR T-Cell therapy.

"I said, 'Yes, I'll do it.' I'm willing to do anything that is not what I used to do," Legaspi said.

Doctors took out Legaspi's blood and "reprogrammed" his cells. The new cells know to find cancer cells and kill them.

"Picture a balloon; if you puncture a balloon, it blows up, and the same things happen with cells," said Dr. Edward Ball with the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Ball added this all happens when new blood is put back into the patient.

"It's promising because we now know it works," said Ball.

Legaspi said he had some severe side effects, but he was in remission within two months.

"Right now, I feel more energetic than I ever used to feel," said Legaspi. "I'm feeling better every single day. This time, I feel like I can just keep on going."

Legaspi got married several months ago, and he loves kayaking and hiking with his wife. He is simply enjoying life cancer-free.

The CAR T-Cell therapy is still in its clinical trial phase, which means it is still being very closely studied and modified.

Legaspi is now studying to become a nurse, specifically in cancer care.