There’s a breakthrough therapy for treating patients with cancer, and it is accessible right here in San Antonio, Texas. Methodist Hospital is leading the future for immunotherapy with a revolutionary treatment for patients with hematologic malignancies. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is a new treatment that is much more directed to attack just cancer cells; it programs a patient’s immune system to recognize and fight cancer all the time. The immune system is responsible for ridding the body of abnormal cells that are foreign (like cancer) or infected.

Doris Franke (76), a former educator and current patient enrolled in the CAR T-cell clinical research trial is a proven success story for this breakthrough treatment. After relapsing from two unsuccessful chemotherapy treatments for her lymphoma diagnosis, she was referred to Dr. Paul Shaughnessy, MD, medical director of the Adult Blood and Marrow STEM Cell Transplant Program at Methodist Hospital for CAR T evaluation.

“I was really excited that I could be in a trial. I thought, wow, if this could help me, great, if they can learn something about it to help others, even better,” commented Doris. 

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In September of 2020, Doris received her transplant and has been in remission for 9 months. “I’m so grateful that I was chosen to be part of this trial,” commented Doris. “It meant the world to me and gave me an opportunity to have a longer period of remission so that I can enjoy my family, grandchildren, and this beautiful world.”

During the CAR T-cell treatment process, T-cells are drawn from a patient’s blood and genetically modified to recognize the patient’s cancer cells when reinfused. First, a patient’s white blood cells are collected through a process called apheresis, isolating the T-cells from other blood cells. The T-cells are then modified in a special facility to program them to recognize cancer cells, which can be thought of as “fighter” T-cells. The new T-cells are reinfused into the patient to target and kill cancer.

To learn more about CAR T-cell immunotherapy and cancer care at Methodist Hospital, visit

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