Young hispanic stands in garden with arms relaxed behind his back.

Twenty-one-year-old Ruben Andrade, the first patient at Loma Linda University Health to receive CAR T cell therapy, began battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia last year. Initially diagnosed after experiencing swollen lymph nodes and alarming blood test results, Ruben's condition didn't improve with standard chemotherapy treatments.

In January, Hisham Abdel-Azim, MD, division head of Transplant and Cell Therapy/Hematological Malignancies at Loma Linda University Cancer Center, introduced Andrade to CAR-T cell therapy, a cutting-edge treatment that involves reprogramming his T-cells to target cancer cells.

Read more: Cancer Center introduces CAR T therapy – the first and only in the region

By March 26, he received the life-changing infusion. Within weeks, Ruben's blood counts began normalizing, and he regained his health and mobility.

Reflecting on his experience, Ruben expressed profound gratitude and hope for the future, aiming to leave cancer behind and return to a normal life. Abdel-Azim, who oversaw his treatment, is optimistic about transforming incurable diseases into curable ones through CAR-T therapy.

"I hope that this is a chapter of his life that we can close together and he can continue his normal life," Abdel-Azim said. "There will be a time when we seldom use chemotherapy. We have one major tool in our arsenal to fight cancer and try to cure the disease."

Learn more about treatments, programs, and research at Loma Linda University Cancer Center.  For new referrals or inquiries contact us at or 909-558-9602.