The federal drug association has given their approval for a cancer treatment for the very first time. This treatment will use a patient’s own genetically modified cells to attack a strain of Leukemia.
FDA approved the treatment this Wednesday and will allow a process known as CAR T-cell therapy to be used in children or young adults fighting the reoccurrence of common children cancer known as B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The new type of therapy is known as Kymriah and has won out in a battle between different new drug applications. There were about 76 active investigational drug applications related to CAR T-cell products, and more than 500 gene therapy products that are being studied for a variety of ailments that range from genetic disorders to autoimmune diseases, diabetes, cancer, and HIV.
These new technologies will transform the medical world and will hopefully be able to treat diseases that were now view as incurable.
B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia
B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a disease that attack the blood cells that make antibodies. It can be treated by chemotherapy, radiation, or through the transfer of bone marrow, which produces blood cells. But there is also a chance of the disease reoccurring with these treatments. If the leukemia does return, the chance of survival falls to 1 out of 10.
Questions and Concerns
The new treatment was developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the pharmaceutical company Novartis.
Officially known as chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, it starts with doctors extracting disease-fighting white blood cells, known as T cells, from a patient’s blood. The cells are frozen and shipped to a laboratory, where they’re genetically engineered to attack a specific protein on the cancerous B cells.They’re then put back into the body, where they seek out and destroy cancer cells.
The therapy can have dangerous side effects -- mainly a condition known as cytokine release syndrome (CRS). That happens when T cells release a lot of a chemical messenger into the bloodstream. This affects the vascular system, causing high fevers and sharp drops in blood pressure.
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