First patient in Ireland receives cell therapy for blood cancer at St. James’s Hospital – archyde

A PATIENT at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin was the first to receive cell therapy treatment for lymphoma previously only available overseas.

It is the first time Ireland has offered chimeric antigen receptor – T cell (CAR-T) therapy to blood cancer patients.

The patient, who wishes to remain anonymous, is from Co Mayo and was referred from Galway University Hospital.

The patient said: “I am very pleased to have this treatment in Ireland.

“I feel like I’m on the edge of a cliff about to crash and I’ve been thrown with a rope and I’m going to grab it with both hands.

“It hasn’t been an easy path for me and my family, but now I feel like I have a chance to fight.”

To date, any patient who has benefited from this potentially life-saving personalized therapy has had to travel to the UK to receive treatment.

HSE spent € 8.18 million in 2019 and 2020 on Irish patients receiving this therapy in the UK through the Treatment Abroad program

Cell therapies such as CAR-T are highly complex and involve collecting T cells from a patient, which are then prepared for export in the hospital’s in-house stem cell laboratory.

These cells are then sent overseas to a CAR-T manufacturing facility where they are converted into cancer cells.

After strict quality controls, the modified T cells are sent back to the hospital’s stem cell laboratory and pharmacy for qualification before reinfusion.

Before reinfusion, the patient receives lymphodepletive chemotherapy for three days.

The consulting hematologist Dr. Larry Bacon and Clinical Nurse Liz Higgins performed the treatment today.

Dr. Bacon said, “CAR-T therapy is a lifeline for eligible blood cancer patients whose other treatment options have been exhausted.

“It is the most advanced immunotherapy currently available for patients with lymphoma. CAR-T therapy marks a major breakthrough particularly in the treatment of relapsed and refractory diseases and St. James’s Hospital is delighted to be treating these patients for the first time in Ireland.

“This program was made possible by massive collaboration between the Directorate for Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Medicine (HOPe) and the teams from the fields of medicine, nursing, cryobiology, pharmacy and business, as well as the Ministry of Health and the NCCP.”

The treatment has a success rate of about 40 percent. Without it, most patients become terminally ill.

Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly said, “I hope that CAR-T therapy will greatly improve patient outcomes for many in the years to come. I gave $ 57 million this year to developing cancer services, improving cancer screening, and developing new cancer drugs.

“It’s great to see the direct benefits this funding brings to patients through new initiatives like CAR-T therapy.”

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