On August 30, 2017, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the cell-based gene therapy Kymriah for treatment of children and young adults with a certain form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common childhood cancer in America. The approval greenlights the first gene therapy to be made available in the United States.
Each dose of Kymriah is customized to the individual patient by way of an emerging form of immunotherapy called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. T-cells are extracted from the patient’s blood and genetically modified in the laboratory to produce chimeric antigen receptors, surface-level proteins that enable the T-cells to recognize and fight leukemia cells that possess the antigen CD19. The newly engineered T-cells are then infused back into the patient’s body. The goal of Kymriah and other forms of immunotherapy is to target and attack the cancer cells that they are programmed to destroy.
This historic approval follows clinical trials demonstrating durable safety and efficacy in children and young adults up to age 25 with relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor ALL.
Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hosptial has ongoing clinical trials evaluating CAR T-cell therapy in adults with certain forms of leukemia. To learn more, visit: https://jcto.weill.cornell.edu/.