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What type of drug is Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel)?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on March 11, 2021.

Official Answer


Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) is a CD19-directed chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR T) therapy used for adults with large B-cell lymphoma or follicular lymphoma, after failing at least two other treatments. The patient's T-cells, a type of white blood cell, are genetically modified and reinfused to target lymphoma cancer cells.

  • CAR T-cell therapy is a new form of immunotherapy, a type of gene therapy. Yescarta was first FDA-approved in October 2017.
  • In CAR T, a patient's T cells (type of white blood cell) are separated out and engineered to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) to target the tumor antigen CD19. CD19 is a protein found on the cell surface of certain lymphomas and leukemias.
  • The re-engineered CAR T-cell is then re-infused back into the patient and redirects the T cells to kill the cancerous cells.
  • CAR T therapy is manufactured specifically for each individual patient and is considered a breakthrough in hematologic (blood) cancer treatment.


In October 2017, Yescarta, from Gilead, was approved for adult patients with large B-cell lymphoma after at least two other kinds of treatment failed.

  • Lymphoma types approved for treatment include diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, high grade B-cell lymphoma and DLBCL arising from follicular lymphoma.
  • Yescarta is not indicated for the treatment of patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma.

In March 2021, Yescarta was approved to treat relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma (FL) in adults after two or more lines of systemic therapy.

  • Follicular lymphoma is a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in which malignant tumors slowly grow but can become more aggressive over time. FL is the second most common type of lymphoma globally. It accounts for about 22% of all lymphomas diagnosed worldwide.
  • This use is approved by the FDA under accelerated approval based on a response rate. Continued approval for this use may depend upon verification of Yescarta's benefit in further clinical trials.

Related: CAR T-Cell Therapy: A Healthcare Professional's Guide - The Top Questions Answered

This is not all the information you need to know about Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) for safe and effective use and does not take the place of talking to your doctor about your treatment. Review the full Yescarta information here, and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


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