The article F.D.A. Approves First Gene-Altering Leukemia Treatment, Costing $475, 000 was written by Denise Grady and appeared in the New York Times on the 30th of August, 2017. The writer centers on the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the first-ever treatment that genetically alters a patient’s individual cells to enable them to fight cancer. The therapy aims to achieve that by training the patient’s cells to recognize and fight the disease and is part of a growing list of immunotherapy treatments that have resulted in long remissions and, or even cure.
Denise Grady states that the therapy, marketed as Kymriah and manufactured by Novartis, will be approved for children and young adults and aimed at combating acute leukemia B-cell lymphoblastic leukemia that has normally resisted standard treatments. Novartis also is in the run to develop gene therapies for another mode of cancer and thus expects further approvals to be made in the future given that over 550 experimental therapies are currently under study.
The writer, Denise Grady, also notes that there may be limitations to the approach given the life-threatening side effects that Kymriah may have such as acute drop in blood pressure and thus, the F.D.A, requires that institutions and doctors be better equipped and trained respectively to handle and administer such treatments and also, be in possession of drugs required to quell severe reactions.
The cost of the treatment is set at $475,000, and Novartis argues that even bone-marrow transplants attract between $540,000 and $800,000. The process aims at drawing a patient’s T cells and shipping them to an approved center for engineering then back to the patient for dripping, a process expected to take 2 days.
The second article is CAR T Cells: Engineering Patients Immune Cells to Treat Their Cancers by National Cancer Institute and centers on co-stimulatory signaling domains being added to new generations of CAR T cells to improve their ability to actively produce more T cells after infusion and thus be able to survive longer (Brentjens, Rafiq & Jackson, 2016).
The article sets aside the fact that for years the basis for cancer treatment has been surgeries and chemo/radiotherapy but targeted therapies have cropped up in the last decade. These include imatinib (Gleevec) that target cancer cells by reigning in on molecular changes witnessed in the cells.
It also highlights the rise of the fifth pillar of cancer treatment immunotherapy therapies that strengthen an individual’s immune with regards to attacking tumors. The article does not have a definitive source or process that gives basic information vis-a-vis the treatment process, side effects, existing success rate, and, or even necessary precautions.
The similarities in the articles lie in the fact that, previously, the administration of immunotherapy forms of treatment had been limited to a select group probably clinical trials but the general public was now becoming more responsive and receptive to such forms of treatments given the positive outcomes witnessed long remissions or even cure.
The article zones off by articulating the turning point of research in the treatment of cancer the progress made by CAR T cells and other ACT approaches. It also foresees dramatic progress in the field of immunotherapy and expects the normal boundaries to be pushed even further beyond people’s normal, usual thoughts.
Brentjens, R., Rafiq, S., & Jackson, H. (2016). Driving CAR T-cells forward. Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, 13(6), 370-383
CAR T Cells: Engineering Immune Cells to Treat Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved 17 February 2018
Grady, D. (2017). F.D.A. Approves First Gene-Altering Leukemia Treatment, Costing $475,000. nytimes.com. Retrieved 17 February 2018
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