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Immunotherapy Takes Significant Step

Published: 2017-07-20 |

Author: Gwen Nichols, M.D. |

Source: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Today is a very significant day in the progress toward cancer cures. An advisory committee of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) unanimously recommended approval of a revolutionary new treatment for patients with relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) - an immunotherapy called CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell) immunotherapy.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society recognized the early promise of this new approach, which uses the body's own immune system to find and kill cancer cells. In fact, since 1998 LLS has invested $21 million in the work of Carl June, M.D., at the University of Pennsylvania, who is credited with pioneering this therapy. Because we believe so strongly in immunotherapy, LLS has invested $2.5 million in a CAR T-cell immunotherapy developed by Kite Pharma, which is currently under review by the FDA to patients with relapsed/refractory non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The deadline for the FDA to decide on the Novartis treatment is October 3, but today's decision might accelerate the timing. The deadline for the Kite decision is November 29. We are hopeful that the FDA will approve both of these breakthroughs for patients who need them. This is a game-changer and this exciting development is just the beginning in understanding the best way to incorporate immunotherapy into blood cancer treatments.

Clinical trials for these therapies are ongoing. If you are a blood cancer patient or caregiver interested in enrolling in a clinical trial, you can contact the clinical trial specialists at the LLS Information Resource Center.

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