The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made a monumental step in the treatment of cancer. At the end of August, the agency voted to approve a revolutionary technique that transforms the body’s own cells into a cancer-fighting mechanism. With this decision, Novartis Pharmaceuticals can make its personalized treatments available to patients suffering from pediatric leukemia.
This novel gene therapy was pioneered by a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. It involves extracting patients’ T-cells and genetically engineering them to fight acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells. The cells are then reintroduced to the body to combat the disease from the inside. The treatment allows patients to avoid the long-term toxicity of other therapies, although patients experience a short period of fever, low blood pressure, and neurological complications as the cells viciously attack the disease. As part of its decision, the FDA delivered an expanded approval for the rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra to help control these issues.
Gene Therapy Showing Promising Results
The personalized drug is called Kymriah, or tisagenlecleucel, and it has had an incredible success rate thus far. The treatment was tested on three adult patients suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia and showed remarkable results. The first pediatric patient to receive the treatment recently celebrated five years cancer-free. In clinical trials of patients at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and with 25 other medical centers across the country, more than 80 percent of participants went into remission.
Now that the treatment has been approved, Novartis can start delivering the treatment more widely. Since approval of the treatment in August 2017, more than 30 hospitals across the country have been certified to administer the therapy. The treatment has been approved for patients age 25 and under who are suffering from B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, who have had one or more relapses. Currently, an expected 600 children across the country could benefit from this specific brand of treatment, but Novartis and the research team are optimistic about adapting T-cell therapy for other blood disorders in the near future, and for solid-tumor cancers soon thereafter.
Price Tag Could Limit Access
The cost for the treatment may be prohibitive for some patients, however. The onetime treatment costs $475,000, but Novartis has made assurances that it will work with Medicare and Medicaid and private insurance companies to establish a payment plan. Furthermore, they claim they will work with families of those that are uninsured to get access. Patients will not have to pay for the treatment if it does not prove effective, but will still be responsible for the costs associated with their hospital stay.
While the market for Kymriah is relatively small currently, the FDA approval may open new doors in gene therapy research. Novel treatment methods such as Kymriah may be the key to combating rare cancers like mesothelioma, which is notoriously resistant to conventional therapies. Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Once diagnosed, patients are often faced with a short life expectancy.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Shein Law Advocate for Mesothelioma Patients
If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, call the Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law. Our knowledgeable and experienced lawyers will thoroughly review the facts of your case and prepare a sound legal strategy to get you the compensation to which you are entitled. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, we help asbestos exposure victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us today at 1-877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) or contact us online to speak to an experienced member of our legal team.