2 February 2023

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals becomes specialist CAR T-cell cancer therapy centre

Sheffield Hospitals begins delivering revolutionary CAR T-cell cancer therapy to patients


  • Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust first centre in South Yorkshire to begin delivering CAR T-cell cancer therapy, a revolutionary new treatment therapy that uses the patient's own genetically modified cells to find and kill cancer cells.
  • CAR T-cell (chimeric antigen receptor t-cell) therapy is a new personalised treatment which uses the patient’s own genetically modified immune system cells to target and kill cancer cells
  • The treatment is currently only available to patients with certain blood cancers who haven't responded to other treatments in line with guidance set out by the National Insitute for Health and Care Excellence.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has begun delivering a new revolutionary treatment that uses the patient’s own genetically modified cells to find and kill cancer cells.

The pioneering treatment, known as CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor t-cell) therapy, will be used in patients with specific types of blood cancers in line with current guidance set out by the National institute for Health and Care Excellence.

This includes:

  • Patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large-B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) who relapse after two or more different types of treatment
  • Patients with relapsed or refractory primary mediastinal large-B cell lymphoma (PMBCL) who have had two or more therapies, and the cancer has come back
  • Patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and
  • Patients up to the age of 25 years who have, or have relapsed from, refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and where all other treatment options have been unsuccessful.

CAR-T is an innovative new cancer treatment which has shown promising results in patients with specific forms of B-cell leukaemia and lymphoma. The highly complex treatment – which takes place over several weeks – works by reprogramming a patient’s T-cells (an immune system cell) so they can locate and destroy cancer cells through a receptor system. This ‘receptor system’ enables the reprogrammed cells to latch on to antibodies that would otherwise keep cancer cells invisible from the immune system.

The first step involves drawing a patient’s white blood cells from their blood in a process known as leukapheresis. This takes place at the NHS Blood and Transplant’s therapeutic apheresis unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. These cells are then sent to a secure manufacturing facility where the T-cells are separated from the rest of the other cells taken. The cells are then given new DNA instructions to act as CAR T-cells – cells which do not exist in nature. This information is implanted into the T-cells so they can locate the cancer cells and destroy them.

It can take weeks for the newly re-engineered CAR T-cells to multiply and grow in the laboratory.

Once there are enough CAR T-cells, the cells are frozen and then sent to back to the hospital and reinfused into the patient. During this period patients are given a course of chemotherapy to increase the chances of the new cells working when they are ready to be given back to the patient.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is the first designated ‘wave 3’ NHS England CAR T-cell cancer therapy centre, and the eleventh in the country to deliver the treatment to adults. It is the first CAR T-cell cancer therapy centre in South Yorkshire.

Dr Nick Morley, Consultant Haematologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to have become a national specialist centre for CAR T-cell cancer therapy centre. CAR-T is an intensive, but exciting and innovative new treatment, which has shown amazing results in some patients with blood cancer. Personalised therapies are increasingly used to treat cancer, and by effectively modifying the patient’s existing immune system CAR-T enables us to deliver a targeted therapy capable of seeking out and destroying cancer cells hiding from the immune system.

“We also have an excellent track record of working with NHS Blood and Transplant to harvest and store stem cells, which T-cells are a sub-set of, and we will be using this extensive experience to lead the way with the development of this new and hugely promising programme of work on behalf of patients in South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw, Chesterfield and beyond.”

Patients interested in accessing the new treatment should discuss the treatment or their suitability with their treating clinician in the first instance.

Further information for patients can be found here.


Dr Nick Morley (centre) with the specialist CAR T-cell cancer therapy team

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