Experimental Treatment for Lymphoma Tried in Rochester

Apr 12, 2016

Dr. Ed Foster, (r) talks with Dr. Patrick Reagan (l) and Dr. Jonathan Friedberg about how his treatment is progressing.
Credit Alex Crichton

An Elmira man is going through a new kind of immunotherapy to treat his cancer, and the Wilmot Cancer Institute in Rochester is just one of 16 sites in the country to participate in the study.

The patient also happens to be a physician.

Dr. Ed Foster was diagnosed with a common form of lymphoma about a year ago, but did not respond to standard aggressive treatment.

So he underwent a new kind of treatment, CAR T-cell therapy, because the Wilmot Cancer Institute was selected at the time to participate in a national clinical trial of the therapy, according to Wilmot director Dr. Jonathan Friedberg.

"CAR T-cell therapy is a therapy where a patient's immune cells are taken out of their body, manipulated in the lab, to fight the lymphoma, and then put back into the patient," said Dr. Friedberg.

Dr. Foster, the patient, says one month later he feels great, but there have been some side effects.

"I had a period during the course of the treatment when I lost my memory. So about half of the period I was in the hospital I don't recall anything. As a matter of fact I'm meeting some people that know me, but I don't know them yet," he said. 

Dr. Ed Foster says he's progressing every day

He says he had other side effects like fever and chills, but is slowly coming out of it and is progressing.

Dr. Patrick Reagan was Foster's treating physician.

He says it may take up to two years to determine the effectiveness of this new treatment.

Dr. Ed Foster and his wife Hanna talk about the experience: