Research Spotlight: Understanding Cytokine Storms
In a recent article published to The New England Journal of Medicine, Penn Medicine's Dr. Carl June and Dr. David Fajgenbaum provide an in-depth summary of cytokine storms — well known to us as a side effect of CAR-T cell therapy, and now being observed in severe cases of COVID-19.
When Emily was fighting through her storm in the ICU after receiving the CAR-T cells, we were told that she wouldn't survive the night. She was on a ventilator and her organs were weakening as her immune system went to battle with itself. We are forever grateful for the quick work Dr. June and Emily's care team at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) put into identifying how to reverse the cytokine release and save her life, allowing the CAR-T cells to go on and fight Emily's cancer. That reversal was the drug tocilizumab, which has since been approved as an effective treatment option for patients experiencing a CAR-T cell therapy induced cytokine storm.
It's important that research is being done to better understand both what causes and calms cytokine storms, and we hope that many people will benefit from the work that Dr. June and Dr. Fajgenbaum have done so far to better define this syndrome.
Read the review article, here.