HUNDREDS more NHS cancer patients will get cutting-edge treatment to turbocharge their immune system.
Health chiefs have signed deals to double the number of people eligible for CAR-T immunotherapy to around 500 per year.
It works by collecting a patient’s white blood cells, editing them in a lab to seek and destroy tumour cells, then injecting them back into the body.
Previously only around 200 patients per year could get the extreme therapy but this will increase to approximately 500.
It includes people with certain types of rare but dangerous blood cancers leukaemia and lymphoma.
NHS cancer chief, Professor Peter Johnson, said: “It is fantastic that we can make cutting-edge CAR-T therapies available to hundreds more patients with advanced blood cancers.
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“It will give them real hope of a longer and better quality of life.
“The NHS continues to be a world leader when it comes to diagnosing cancer earlier and providing the latest treatments to patients at a price affordable to taxpayers.”
Clinical trials have shown CAR-T can work where other treatments have failed – even curing some patients who had run out of options.
It is complex and expensive but UK drugs watchdogs have struck a private deal with pharma firm Gilead to make it available.
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There are now six types of cancer it can be used for, with the new deal adding untreatable diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Health Minister Helen Whately added: “These personalised therapies mean a patient’s own immune system attacks their cancer – an exciting and innovative cancer treatment.
“We’re laser-focused on fighting cancer.”
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