According to a story from BioPortfolio, the immunotherapy drug Kymriah, a type of CAR-T cell therapy, will be funded by NHS England for the treatment of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who are age 25 or younger and have seen their cancer relapse after attempting other treatment approaches, including stem cell transplant. This will provide these patients with another treatment option when others have failed.
About Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a type of blood cancer which affects lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. This type of leukemia is distinguished by the abnormal proliferation of immature lymphocytes, which are known as lymphoblasts. As an acute leukemia, it can progress rapidly without treatment. There are a number of genetic disorders and mutations which are considered risk factors for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Other possible risk factors include chemo, high birth weight, infections, and radiation exposure. The direct cause is often unknown is many cases. Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, bone pain, pale skin, fatigue, bleeding and bruising easily, and fever. Treatment can include radiation therapy, chemo, biological therapy, and immunotherapy. Five year survival rate is 90 percent in kids but plummets to just 35 percent in adults. To learn more about acute lymphoblastic leukemia, click here.
About Kymriah and CAR-T Cell Therapy
Kymriah is a unique immunotherapy in which immune system T-cells are extracted from the patient’s body. Then, these cells are modified in a laboratory so that the recognize and destroy cancer cells. Once this modification process is complete, the cells are reintroduced into the body of the patient. For most younger patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, conventional approaches like chemotherapy are often all it take to achieve remission, but in the small number of patients who do not respond well to conventional approaches, CAR-T cell therapy may be the only treatment that works.
Professor Karl Peggs of Cancer Research UK estimates that only about 20 patients a year will actually have to undergo treatment with CAR-T cell therapy. Clinical trials demonstrated that capability of the treatment to achieve remission 8 out of 10 patients, although the therapy also has some serious side effects.
Nevertheless, Kymriah can offer real hope to patients that have exhausted other therapeutic options. The first patients will receive the newly funded treatment sometime in the fall.