A deal has been struck to let the NHS offer children an expensive new cancer therapy which has been labelled the most exciting treatment advance for decades.
The treatment, CAR-T, is a cutting edge treatment for aggressive leukaemia. CAR-T is a novel way of treating cancer which can be personalised to the individual patient. It involves giving patients genetically modified immune cells, which are taken from a sample of the patient’s blood and reprogrammed in a lab to create ones that are genetically coded to recognise and destroy the patient’s cancer cells. Trials have found it has cured some patients, even those with advanced cancers where other treatments have failed. It is usually requested when other drugs have failed but costs hundreds of thousands of pounds per patient. However, the NHS has reported that it has reached a fair and affordable price agreement with the manufacturer, Novartis.
Hospitals will be able to start giving it to children within weeks.
The first three hospitals to apply to use the CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T cell) therapy are in London, Manchester and Newcastle. With hopes that it can be used across the UK. The cash for the CAR-T will come from the Cancer Drugs Fund which was set up to fast-track access to the most promising new cancer treatments.