FDA ap­proves coun­try’s first gene ther­apy

Pa­tients’ cells are al­tered to at­tack and kill can­cer cells

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By An­drea K. McDaniels

The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion on Wed­nes­day ap­proved a ground-break­ing gene ther­apy treat­ment in which a pa­tient’s blood cells are ge­net­i­cally engi- neered to at­tack and kill can­cer cells.

Johns Hop­kins Hos­pi­tal will be one of 32 hos­pi­tals whose doc­tors will be spe­cially trained to ad­min­is­ter the pro­ce­dure, an of­fi­cial with the hos­pi­tal said.

The treat­ment was ap­proved for chil­dren and young adults up to age 25 who suf­fer from acute lym­phoblas­tic leukemia and for whom the stan­dard treat­ment is in­ef­fec­tive, which the FDA said is about 15 per­cent to 20 per­cent of pa­tients. The dis­ease, the most com­mon child­hood can­cer in the United States, is a can­cer of the bone mar­row and blood that pro­gresses quickly. About 3,100 peo­ple ages 20 and un­der are di­ag­nosed with the dis­ease each year, ac­cord­ing to The Na­tional Can­cer In­sti­tute.

“This is a brand new way of treat­ing can­cer,” said Dr. Stephan Grupp of Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal of Philadel­phia, who

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