The 6th Annual Healthcare Symposium focused on CAR T-Cell Therapy – a groundbreaking new cancer treatment that has had promising results in clinical trials. Former College Trustee and cancer survivor Jon Prusmack is one of just 20 people nationwide to take part in a clinical trial using CAR T-Cell Therapy to treat multiple myeloma. One year later, Prusmack is cancer-free.
Prusmack opened the health symposium by telling his success story. He started the clinical trial after his cancer mutated and chemotherapy, which he had been on for 15 years, was no longer effective. “The end result is no chemotherapy. You live a normal life. Does it work forever? Nobody knows. It’s still in clinical trials. But for the one year, that I’ve been on it, it’s been terrific: live a normal life; work hard; no chemo; energy. I just feel terrific,” he said.
The speakers at the October 5, 2018 event were Prusmack’s physician, Dr. David S. Siegel, Chief of the Division of Multiple Myeloma, Hackensack University Medical Center, and Dr. Joel W. Beetsch, Vice President, Global Patient Advocacy, Corporate Affairs, Celgene Corporation. Celgene has worked on developing this new therapy.
Dr. Siegel said CAR T-cell Therapy is an enormous step forward for all oncology. So far, the therapy has been tested only on blood cancers, however, clinical trials are beginning for treating solid tumors. The therapy involves removing T-cells from the body and modifying the cells in a lab to be able to identify cancer cells. The modified T- cells are grown and expanded and then injected back into the patient. The CAR T-cells bind to cancer cells and kill them.
The Health Symposium was held in the Fury Lecture Hall in the science center bearing Prusmack’s name.