The news this week that the FDA approved a novel treatment
using a genetic procedure to modify the body’s own immune system caught the attention of the doctors at Attune Health who are optimistic that the technology will eventually have wide-reaching success treating a variety of diseases.
“Using the body’s own T cells to fight off a deadly cancer is something that would have seemed like science fiction just a few years ago,” said Attune Health’s Dr. Swamy Venuturupalli. “Kudos to the FDA for the speedy approval.”
The breakthrough treatment was first used on a 7-year-old acute lymphoblastic leukemia patient. Her T cells were removed from her body, fortified and multiplied in a lab, then returned to her body to fight the cancer cells. Within three weeks of the treatment, she was deemed cancer free. She is now 12 years old and has been in remission for five years.
In 88 patients who had relapsed or had treatment-resistant acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the experimental treatment worked to put 73 of those patients into remission.
The personalized treatment will be marketed by Novartis under the name Kymriah. Novartis has said it plans to open 32 treatment centers by the end of 2018.
While the breakthrough is currently targeting childhood cancer, Dr. Venuturupalli is excited about what how this genetic therapy could eventually treat a host of other diseases.
“This is a remarkable development in modern medicine’s quest to treat disease,” he said. “This is likely the first of a number of genetic personalized treatments for cancer and also autoimmune diseases.”