Nick Howe: Man on a mission - Bristol Myers Squibb

Vials containing Breyanzi (LEFT) are stored at cryogenic temperatures after the manufacturing process is completed. Firefighter/EMT and non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivor Nick Howe (RIGHT) believes it was his mission to enroll in a cell therapy clinical trial to discover new treatment options for patients like him.

Man on a mission

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivor Nick Howe believes it was his mission to enroll in a cell therapy clinical trial to discover new treatment options for patients like him.

Nick Howe compares himself to an astronaut and his medical team to “Houston.” His experience with non-Hodgkin lymphoma took his body to its furthest limits, led to the discovery of a universe of unknown family members and opened up an entirely new world for him.

In 2016, Nick felt healthy, and he and his wife, Rachel, were discussing starting a family. But some swelling in his neck prompted him to visit his doctor. Nick was soon diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. His body was on a swift decline—his organs were shutting down, and he was given just days to live.

"I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe where I am today and that this is my life."
– Nick

Nick tried multiple treatments including chemotherapy, an immunotherapy clinical trial and even a stem cell transplant using his own cells. But the disease was not eradicated and soon returned, and it was aggressive and quick, Nick said.

“The next step was an allogeneic or donor-supplied stem cell transplant and I needed a match, but there were none in the database,” Nick said.

Nick had an idea. Years earlier, his parents told him he had been conceived via donor insemination. Through genealogy services, Nick discovered multiple half-siblings and his doctor agreed it was worth pursuing to find a match.

As he waited for a match, Nick remembered hearing a fellow patient discuss CAR T cell therapy. Nick asked his doctor to place him on a CAR T clinical trial waiting list.

As Nick prepared to enroll in a clinical trial for Breyanzi, one of two BMS CAR T cell therapies now approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), he also discovered one half-brother—who was serendipitously working as a doctor at the same hospital Nick was being treated—and was a 100 percent match for a stem cell transplant. Nick was at a fork in the road. Should he choose the stem cell transplant or take a chance on CAR T?

“I chose CAR T because it’s a new kind of treatment. You can’t advance the science until you have patients willing to take it on,” he said.

The process of turning a T cell into a CAR T cell involves taking the patient’s own T cells out of their body, and introducing a special receptor, the CAR, to the cells. The CAR T cells are returned to the patient’s body and can locate the target cells, including cancerous cells, through the receptor and attack those cells.

Just three days after the Breyanzi treatment, Nick noticed improvements. A few short weeks post-CAR T treatment, Nick received a call from his doctor—Nick’s scan was clear. Today, he’s still in remission.

In 2018, Nick and his wife welcomed their daughter, Julia. He also returned to his job as a firefighter-EMT for his local fire and rescue squad. Three years later, they welcomed twin sons, Miles and Levi.

“I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe where I am today and that this is my life,” Nick said.

“I’m here today because of the researchers’ tireless efforts—searching for the unknown, going after it even after facing a lot of discouragement and failed efforts. They stay mission-focused and help patients like me get to where we are today.” 

Breyanzi, approved by the FDA in early 2021, is BMS’ first CAR T cell therapy for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma after two or more lines of systemic therapy. Bristol Myers Squibb is the only company with two approved CAR T cell therapies with two distinct targets (CD19 and BCMA): Breyanzi and Abecma, which is the only FDA-approved CAR T cell therapy for patients living with multiple myeloma.

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2021 Annual Report


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The patient stories shared in this Annual Report depict individual patient responses to our medicines or investigational compounds and are not representative of all patient responses. In addition, there is no guarantee that potential drugs or indications still in development will receive regulatory approval. This Annual Report contains statements about the company’s future plans and prospects that constitute forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ from those indicated as a result of various important factors, including those discussed in the company’s most recent annual report on Form 10-K and reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K. These documents are available from the SEC, the Bristol-Myers Squibb website or from Bristol-Myers Squibb Investor Relations. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent our estimates only as of the date hereof and should not be relied upon as representing our estimates as of any subsequent date. While we may elect to update forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we specifically disclaim any obligation to do so, even if our estimates change. This Annual Report also contains certain non-GAAP financial measures, adjusted to exclude certain costs, expenses, gains and losses and other specified items. Reconciliations of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most comparable GAAP measures are available on the company’s website at