Glossary

  • Antigen: Any substance that causes the body to make an immune response against that substance. Antigens include toxins, chemicals, bacteria, viruses, or other substances that come from outside the body. Body tissues and cells, including cancer cells, also have antigens on them that can cause an immune response.
  • Apheresis: The process of taking blood out of the body, separating and removing certain parts of the blood, and then reintroducing the remaining blood back into the body. This process is done in CAR T cell therapy to remove T cells before adding CARs to them. This may also be called leukapheresis.
  • Blood cancer: Cancer that begins in blood-forming tissue, such as the bone marrow, or in the cells of the immune system. Examples of blood cancer are leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. This may also be called hematologic cancer.
  • Cancer immunotherapy: A treatment option that seeks to use a person’s immune system to help fight cancer.
  • CAR (chimeric antigen receptor): A specific receptor (or hook) that is added to a person’s T cells that may help them find and fight specific cells.
  • CAR T cell: A T cell with the specific CAR added.
  • CAR T cell therapy: A type of therapy that adds CARs to a person’s own T cells to work with their immune system to find and fight cancers. Some CAR T cell therapies are FDA approved, some are still being studied in clinical trials.
  • Clinical trial: A research study that evaluates the effectiveness and safety profile of an experimental treatment.
  • Cytokine: A type of protein that is made by certain immune and non-immune cells and has an effect on the immune system. Some cytokines stimulate the immune system and others slow it down.
  • Cytokine release syndrome (CRS): A potentially severe or life-threatening side effect that can occur after treatment with CAR T cell therapy. CRS is caused by a large, rapid release of cytokines, a type of protein, into the blood.
  • Immune system: The body’s natural defense against infection and disease, designed to fight colds and other viruses. The immune system includes white blood cells, organs, bone marrow, and other tissues of the lymph system.
  • Infusion: The process of introducing fluids, such as blood or medicine, into the body using an intravenous (IV) method.
  • Neurologic toxicities: A potentially severe or life-threatening side effect of CAR T cell therapy that can cause damage to the nervous system.
  • T cell: A type of white blood cell that are key fighters in the immune system. T cells can be modified to help fight certain cancers.