What is the difference between chemotherapy and cell therapy?

Chemotherapeutic drugs are chemical substances which target disease-causing cancer cells and thereby kill them or inhibit their growth. There are various types of chemotherapeutic drugs for the treatment of cancer and they are usually used in combination to maximize their effects.

Cellular therapies are a personalized treatment where living cells are used to treat different diseases. Nowadays, two main types of cellular therapies are routinely used in cancer therapy: stem cell transplantation and CAR-T cells. Stem cells are not modified in a laboratory before they are used as cellular therapy when treating cancer. CAR-T cells are manufactured from cells enriched from the patient’s blood and later transfused into the patient.

What is CAR-T cell therapy?

What are CAR-T cells?
The human body is made up of many different types of cells. CAR-T cell therapy is a form of cellular therapy that uses specially altered T cells — a part of the immune system — to fight cancer. Blood is collected from the patient and shipped to the CAR-T cell manufacturing facility. Here the patient ́s T cells are enriched and modified to become CAR-T cells that recognize cancer cells. When these CAR-T cells are reinfused into the patient, the CAR-T cells are able to latch and attack the patient’s cancer cells.
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The different steps of the CAR-T cell treatment

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    Leukapheresis collection:
    The required volume of blood is collected and shipped to the manufacturing facility where the investigational product is produced.

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    Preparation for the CAR-T cell therapy:
    The patient receives chemotherapy (lymphodepletion), at the CAR-T cell center to reduce the number of blood cells.

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    Infusion of CAR-T cells:
    After manufacturing, the CAR-T cells are shipped back to the hospital and the patient receives a single infusion containing their own CAR-T cells.

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How are CAR-T cells used?
Some CAR-T cells products are approved by the European Commission and FDA for USA as well as by country regulatory authorities to treat B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias, multiple myeloma and aggressive B cell lymphomas such as DLBCL.
How long does the therapy take?
Our CAR-T cell treatment is a single infusion that will occur within approximately 30 mins from the start of the infusion process. You will be in hospital for this process. Then after the infusion, you will be closely monitored by the hospital medical staff.
What are side effects of CAR-T cell therapy?
Common side effects of CAR-T cell therapy can include cytokine release syndrome and neurological toxicity. The doctor at the CAR-T cell center is aware of these side effects and will provide you with the most suitable treatment for these side effects throughout the whole study duration.
Have CAR-T cells already been tested with other patients?
For several years, pharmaceutical companies and university hospitals have carried out clinical trials with CAR-T cells. To date, there are several CAR-T cell products approved in Europe and the USA for adult and pediatric patients with different hematological cancer types. The first product was approved in 2017 in the USA and in 2018 in Europe. To date, thousands of patients have been treated with approved CAR-T cell products.
What is a CD19 CAR-T cell product?
DLBCL is a cancer affecting specific type of cells, the B cells, that have a structure on their surface called CD19. CD19 CAR-T cells have the ability to recognize CD19 on the B cells surface to attack the cancerous B cells. The first CD19 CAR-T cells were approved in the USA in 2017 and in 2018 for Europe.
What is zamtocabtagene autoleucel and how does it work?
In addition to CD19, B cells have another structure on their surface called CD20. Zamtocabtagene autoleucel is an investigational CAR-T cell product from Miltenyi Biomedicine that is expected to attack cancer cells by latching on B cell CD19 and CD20 structures. We are exploring the potential for our CAR-T cell product to treat DLBCL patients in our DALY clinical trials. Zamtocabtagene autoleucel is not yet an approved treatment in any county as it is currently under investigation in the DALY clinical trials.

DALY clinical trial information

Evaluating a potential CAR-T cell treatment for patients with DLBCL.

Discover more about the DALY trial


Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells

T cells are part of the immune system that protects against diseases. CAR-T cells are altered T cells to fight cancer.

CAR-T cell center

CAR-T cell center is a unit of a hospital specialized in CAR-T cell treatment.

Cytokine Release Syndrome

Cytokine Release Syndrome is a collection of symptoms that can develop as a side effect of CAR-T- cell therapy. The syndrome occurs when immune cells are activated and release large amounts of cytokines (inflammatory components) into the body.

Diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL)

DLBCL is an aggressive cancer of B cells. It is the most common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.


Leukapheresis is a procedure where specific blood cells are collected from the patient’s blood for CAR-T cell manufacturing.


Lymphodepletion is a treatment using chemotherapeutic drugs to prepare the patient for a CAR-T cell therapy.

Neurological toxicity

Neurological toxicity is the presence of at least one neurological symptom appearing after CAR-T cell infusion. Their clinical spectrum is very heterogeneous.