06 December 2018

Two hospitals in England are starting CAR-T cell treatment of children with leukaemia, it has been announced by NHS England.

The first patient will have been treated last week at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, while treatment at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital will begin shortly. Treatment is also due to begin in Newcastle next month.

Campaigners praised the speed with which treatment has been implemented following a deal in September enabling the NHS to provide access to the immunotherapy treatment, known as tisagenlecleucel or Kymriah.

NHS England says the children will be among the first in the world to receive the treatment, which gained a European Marketing licence in August.

The organisation also announced the hospitals that will be giving adult patients with lymphoma a CAR-T cell therapy called Axicabtagene-ciloleucel, also known as Yescarta.

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Royal Infirmary, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust have already received accreditation, while King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are close to gaining approval.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s National Medical Director, said: “As with any ground breaking new therapy, CAR-T is not without risk, but it does offer a real advance in our treatment of lymphoma and leukaemia for those who otherwise would have limited options.”

Dr Alasdair Rankin, Director of Research at the charity Bloodwise, said: “It has taken a huge amount of effort to make these potentially life-saving treatments available for children and adults who need them most. NHS England should be congratulated for moving forward with this so quickly, with people in England among the first in the world to have access to it.

 “The hospitals involved all have an impressive history of providing new and complex treatments, so this is great news for those people who will benefit from it. The next challenge for the NHS will be delivering CAR-T therapies on a larger scale.”

Source: NHS England


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