A first of its kind cancer treatment has got the approval from the FDA. The new therapy clears 83% of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a type of blood cancer.
The decision has been called “historic” and marks the first day of the immunotherapy revolution for cancer treatments.
An immunotherapy marketed as Kymriah is a CAR T-cell therapy which uses the patient’s own immune cells to combat cancer. White blood cells called T-cells are extracted from the patient where they are then modified to seek and destroy cancer. The treatment will cost £367,000 but will only be used in circumstances when the standard treatment has proved ineffective.
One patient was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia was on the verge of death but after receiving the CAR T-cell therapy, they bounced back and has been cancer free for 5 years. 83% out of the 63 patients went into remission after 3 months.
Dr Scott Gottlieb, from the FDA, said: “We’re entering a new frontier in medical innovation with the ability to reprogram a patient’s own cells to attack a deadly cancer.
“New technologies such as gene and cell therapies hold out the potential to transform medicine and create an inflection point in our ability to treat and even cure many intractable illnesses.”
“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” he added.
This type of treatment has close to unlimited potential when it comes to cancer. White blood cells can be modified to target a large range of cancers with a lot of trials showing positive results. However, cancers that have solid tumours, such as lung and melanoma, are difficult to treat with CAR T-cell therapy.
This marks the first step in a revolution in medicine to utilise the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.
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