First ever gene therapy approved by the FDA
Yesterday, the FDA signed off on a gene therapy for the first time ever in the US. It'll be used to treat a certain kind of leukemia that's the most common type of cancer in kids.
Here's how it works: docs take certain immune system cells from the patient, then genetically modify aka edit them to attack and kill the cancer cells. Then they're put back inside the patient to do their thing. This is considered a type of immunotherapy - treatment aimed at giving someone's immune system a boost.
Tests show that this particular treatment pushes the chances of survival way up. It can only be used on patients who are 25 and younger who haven't responded to standard treatment. Oh, and on patients who can afford to shell out nearly $500,000.
But the company behind the drug (Novartis) says it's working to make sure it can give families an assist with the cost. So there's that. Scientists have been looking into these kinds of gene therapies for years, but none of them have hit the market. Until now. Researchers are hoping to develop similar treatments for other cancers and diseases.