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Journey Home Project supports first CAR-T infusion at VA hospital

Jan. 16, 2020, 10:28 AM


by Tom Wilemon

The Tennessee Valley Healthcare System performed its first CAR-T infusion recently at the Veterans Administration hospital in Nashville, an achievement made possible by collaboration with Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) and support from the Journey Home Project.

CAR-T, which stands for chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy, is a new immunotherapy. It entails removing a patient’s T cells, re-engineering them so they can target cancer and then infusing those cells back into the patient.

“This is the first CAR-T treatment to actually take place at a VA hospital. Having the treatment available will save time for veterans in gaining access to this immunotherapy. We’re very excited to be able to offer it,” said Stacey Goodman, MD, professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt and director of the bone marrow stem cell transplant program at Tennessee Valley Healthcare System.

Delivering CAR-T treatment is challenging because it requires an integrated, multidisciplinary team and advanced laboratory software. The collaboration between Vanderbilt and Tennessee Valley Healthcare System received philanthropic support.

In November 2019, the Journey Home Project, a foundation headed by Country Music Hall of Fame entertainer Charlie Daniels and music industry executive David Corlew, made a donation to aid U.S. military veterans battling cancer.

The donation funded enhanced software, quality monitoring and other administrative costs associated with providing CAR-T treatments.

“We here at the Journey Home Project are super excited about the new CAR-T cell procedure project at Vanderbilt and so honored to play a small part in helping them bring this new and unique approach to defeating cancer to fruition,” Daniels said.

VICC became the first cancer center in Tennessee to provide CAR-T treatment in 2016 as part of a clinical trial and a year later became one of the few cancer centers in the United States authorized to deliver the new immunotherapy.

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