Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell Therapy

UCLA Health physicians are at the forefront of immunotherapy for cancer. As leaders in CAR T-cell therapy, we pioneered these groundbreaking treatments and continue to make them more effective.

3d render of T cells attacking and killing cancer cells
CAR T-cell Therapy at UCLA Health

Why choose UCLA Health for CAR T-cell therapy?

Immunotherapy helps patients fight different forms of cancer by enabling the immune system to both recognize and attack cancer. One form of immunotherapy, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, specifically targets blood cancers so they can be eliminated.

The physicians and researchers at UCLA Health are at the forefront of immunotherapy innovation. Highlights of our program include:

  • Groundbreaking treatments: In 2018, UCLA Health became one of the first health systems in the nation to offer commercial CAR T-cell therapy. In 2020, UCLA Health was one of the first to offer Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved CAR T-cell therapy to treat relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma. We previously offered this therapy to participants in clinical trials.
  • Experience and expertise: Our specialists have delivered nearly 200 infusions of FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapy since 2018. We’ve also helped hundreds of people through many immunotherapy clinical trials.
  • Ongoing research: Our commitment to research has resulted in breakthroughs in CAR T-cell therapy. Our physicians work with the researchers at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center to stay up to date on the latest advances in immunotherapy.
  • Clinical trials: The physicians and researchers at UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA lead the way in cancer research. If you’re eligible, you’ll have access to a variety of immunotherapy clinical trials. Your doctor will discuss the CAR T-cell therapy trials currently available and help you assess the risks and benefits of treatment.
  • Pioneering the latest therapies: UCLA Health specialists are consistently prepared to deliver new treatments as soon as they’re approved by the FDA. We stay on top of the latest developments so we can offer effective treatments the moment they’re available.

What is CAR T-cell therapy?

CAR T-cell therapy activates a person’s immune system to fight off cancer. This groundbreaking treatment is a type of immunotherapy called effector cell therapy or engineered cell therapy. Immunotherapy is still relatively new, but it shows promise for adults and children for whom other treatments have stopped working.

T cells are the central components of the immune system. In CAR T-cell therapy, T cells are collected from the patient’s blood. Then, in a laboratory, specialists modify the T cells so they can recognize and attack certain blood cancers.

The modified cells are then returned to the patient’s body. If the treatment is successful, the newly modified T cells will help a person’s immune system kill off cancer cells, sending the disease into remission.

Conditions we treat with CAR T-cell therapy

This kind of immunotherapy is being studied for a variety of blood cancers. Currently, the FDA has approved five CAR T-cell therapies to treat blood cancers. These cancers and therapies include:

  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) in adults: Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel), Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) and Breyanzi (lisocabtagene maraleucel; liso-cel) are FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapies for adults with DLBCL who have relapsed or who haven’t responded to previous treatments
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL): Kymriah is FDA-approved to treat children and young adults up to age 25 who have refractory or relapsed ALL after other treatments. Tecartus is FDA-approved for adults with relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor ALL.
  • Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL): Tecartus (brexucabtagene autoleucel) is an FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapy for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory MCL.
  • Follicular lymphoma: Yescarta is the FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapy for adults with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma after multiple lines of therapy.
  • Multiple myeloma: Abecma (idecabtagene vicleucel) is FDA-approved to treat adults with multiple myeloma that did not respond or returned after multiple lines of therapies.


Infusion therapy: Offered at both Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and the UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center.

Consultation & Clinic: Appointments are scheduled in Westwood at Bowyer Oncology Center and Westwood Pediatrics, and in Santa Monica at Santa Monica Cancer Care (2020).

Contact us

Our outstanding team includes experts in hematology, oncology and blood and bone marrow transplantation. Using a coordinated approach, we work closely with experienced researchers to deliver groundbreaking cancer treatments.

For more information about CAR T-cell therapy at UCLA Health, please call 888-662-8252.

Find your care

UCLA Health immunotherapy specialists develop a personalized plan to treat blood cancer. For more information, call our cancer services team at 888-662-8252.

Updates in CAR T-Cell Therapies for Blood Cancer Treatment

Sarah Larson, MD | Closer to a Cure Cancer Series