Is axicabtagene ciloleucel the beginning of a personalised cancer treatment revolution?
A cancer drugs fund access agreement between Gilead and NHS England is to make an expensive personalised cancer treatment available to patients in England.
The treatment would have cost nearly £300,000 per patient at its full list price.
Axicabtagene ciloleucel (Yescarta) CAR-T treatment will be available for children and young people with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma.
The treatment, which is expected to benefit 200 patients a year, re-programmes the immune system to target the cancer. It is to be made available to patients after they have failed two or more previous therapies. Some 40% of patients may be cured by the treatment.
The patient’s own T cells are genetically modified to make a protein called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). When the treatment is given back to the patient, the new receptor allows the modified T cells to attach to and kill cancer cells, thereby helping to clear the cancer.
One of the most promising new treatments for leukaemia for many years, CAR-T cell treatment is said to mark the beginning of a new era of personalised medicine in the NHS.
Axicabtagene ciloleucel is licensed to treat adult patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma after two or more previous therapies have failed. Trials indicate that the therapy could potentially cure 40% of patients.
Gilead Sciences general manager for the UK and Ireland Hilary Hutton-Squire said her company was delighted to have been able to reach an agreement with NHS England and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
‘The speed of this decision shows how research-based life-sciences companies and the NHS can partner together for the benefit of patients in the UK,’ she argued.
The first wave of NHS hospitals working towards providing the treatment include Birmingham, Bristol, London, Manchester and Newcastle.