A genetically engineered cancer treatment for leukemia and lymphoma that was previously in the clinical trial stage is now being made available to the public. This treatment is a great leap forward in the battle against leukemia and lymphoma.
Last week the FDA expert committee recommended to permit this treatment and hopes are that it will soon be publically available for patients from ages 3 to 25.
The treatment which at this stage is meant for leukemia and lymphoma is produced by the Novartis Pharmaceutical Company. At this point, the new medication is not meant to replace the standard treatments, rather it is meant for those for whom the standard treatment was not effective.
The process goes as follows: T cells from the patient are extracted, frozen and shipped to a special lab. At the lab a gene is introduced into the T cells that can identify the cancer cells and they ‘reprogram’ the T cells that way. These engineered cells are again frozen and shipped back to the hospital to be administered to the patient. They then multiply in the circulatory system of the patient and search and destroy the cancerous cells.
The great advantage of this new genetic treatment is that one treatment can bring on a really long remission or even succeed in banishing the cancer from the patient totally bringing total recovery. The clinical trials until now succeeded in saving terminally ill patients that the standard treatments failed to help. One of the drawbacks of the new treatment is the side effects are drastic, ranging from high fever and flu all the way to ending up in an intensive care unit.
In Israel the treatment is available only in the Sheba Hospital in clinical trials. Up to now 17 patients were treated with this genetic treatment half were children and the other half young adults. The treatment succeeded in 80% of the leukemia patients and in 60% of the lymphoma patients.
The pharmaceutical companies are trying to find ways the genetic treatment can be expanded to include other types of cancers especially melanoma and aggressive brain cancer.
May G-d help bring about a cure to all our ailments.