Immune system treatment for cancer approved
A breakthrough cancer treatment has been recommended for adults with some types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) in England has published final draft guidance recommending the CAR T-cell therapy, axicabtagene-ciloleucel, part of a new wave of personalised medicine which re-engineers a patient's own immune cells to fight cancer.
The treatment, also known as Yescarta and manufactured by Kite, a Gilead company, will be made available as part of the NHS Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), giving eligible patients access to it while more data is collected.
The therapy is for adults with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma or primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, two aggressive subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and will be the first time they will be able to access a CAR-T therapy in the UK.
It will be offered to patients whose disease has not responded after two or more rounds of chemotherapy or relapsed after a stem cell transplant. In many cases, they have run out of treatment options and are unlikely to survive the next six months.
CAR-T therapies such as axicabtagene-ciloleucel harness the immune system to detect and destroy cancer cells through a new process in which a patient's blood is collected, re-engineered in a lab, and then returned to their body in a single intravenous infusion.
Nice's initial draft guidance did not recommend axicabtagene-ciloleucel as the therapy was not considered cost-effective.
But further negotiations between NHS England and the company led to a commercial agreement offering axicabtagene-ciloleucel at a lower price.