The US Food and Drug Administration recently announced the approval of a new leukemia treatment, which, according to CNN, “the agency considers the first gene therapy it has cleared to hit the market in the United States.”
Kymriah, a cell-based gene therapy medicine, is approved in the United States for the treatment of patients up to 25 years of age. It aims to give patients a second chance after the first-line of drugs have failed in treatment of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL.
“We’re entering a new frontier in medical innovation with the ability to reprogram a patient’s own cells to attack a deadly cancer,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. in the press release. “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.”
Each dose of Kymriah is customized using the patient’s own T-cells. The patient’s T-cells are collected and genetically modified to target and kill the cancer source. Once the cells are modified, they are infused back into the patient to attack the cancer.
“Kymriah is a first-of-its-kind treatment approach that fills an important unmet need for children and young adults with this serious disease,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER).
“This rapid pace at which immunotherapy has been transferred from the bench to the bedside to the point that we now have an FDA approved cellular therapy shows that CAR-T cells and immunotherapy in general are the future of cancer treatment. The UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is actively involved in several cutting edge immunotherapy and cellular therapy efforts both in basic science and clinical trials that will translate into advanced care being available for patients throughout the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center system,” said Dr. Allison Sehgal in reference to the approval of Kymriah.
Advancement in immunotherapy such as the approval of Kymriah is a big deal for everyone -- including animals. Immunotherapies are gaining traction and there has been an urgent need for these novel treatment options that improve outcomes for patients.
VetiVax Autologous Cancer Immunotherapy is an experimental immunotherapy option for animal patients much like Kymriah that modifies the patient’s own tumor cells to recognize cancer as foreign. While immunotherapy is still fairly young in the world of medicine for both humans and animals, it’s exciting to see the progress, and witness the positive responses from treated patients.
To speak with a specialist about the approval and use of immunotherapy as effective treatment against cancer, contact us.