CAR-T Cell Cancer Therapy to Save Lives

04 August 2019

The Victorian and Commonwealth Governments work together to make CAR-T Cell Therapy available to patients

  • CAR-T Cell Therapy is one of the most expensive treatments ever to be brought to Australia
  • More than 95 Victorians are diagnosed with cancer every day

The Victorian and Commonwealth Governments have worked together to bring the revolutionary, life-saving new treatment for fighting blood cancers, Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy to Victoria.

Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos and Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt today announced joint funding to bring the cutting-edge treatment to Victoria.

Ms Mikakos said CAR T-cell therapy will help save the lives of many children and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when there is no other treatment as an option.

“This will be a game changer for Victorian patients who have few options left for treatment. It is cutting-edge therapy that will make a world of difference for some of our sickest children and young people,” Ms Mikakos said.

“Sadly, for many, this expensive treatment was out of reach. These brave young people battling cancer will now be able to get the life-saving therapy they need, without needing to go overseas.”

Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said young cancer patients in Australia are now receiving the latest innovative cancer treatment due to this collaborative approach.

“Our governments have worked together to make this life saving treatment available as soon as possible.”

“As a result, the first patients have already received free treatment with Kymriah®, giving them new hope of beating their cancer,” Minister Hunt said.

CAR T-cell therapy is now available at the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre for Victorian patients – and for interstate patients who travel here to receive Victoria’s world-class care.

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre has received an $80 million investment to further develop and trial CAR T-cell therapies for Victorian patients into the future.

This will include a new dedicated 14 bed/chair cellular immunotherapy clinical unit for provision of Kymriah and potentially, other novel cellular therapies.

Kymriah treatment centres in other parts of Australia are in planning.

CAR T-cell therapy is a new frontier in cancer treatment that allows the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.

It involves removing a patient’s T cells (a type of immune system cell), re-engineering them in a lab and reinserting them back into the body to attack and kill the cancer cells.

In 2017, there were 105 new diagnoses for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – and 60 were children or young adults.

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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