The UK’s NHS has reviewed two cancer immunotherapies for use in Scotland. They include:
- Tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah): approved for some children and young adults with leukemia
- Axicabtagene ciloleucel (Yescarta): rejected due to uncertainty about the treatment’s long-term benefits
Kite Pharma’s Yescarta is used to treat some types of aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was approved for use on the NHS in England in October 2018.
Both therapies are part of a new group of immune-boosting treatments, which take the patient’s own immune cells and modify them in a lab.
The modified cells are then returned to the patient’s bloodstream where they’re primed to recognize and attack cancer cells. But in its latest round of drug announcements, the SMC rejected a second CAR T cell therapy, Yescarta, for some adults with aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
A clinical trial of 111 patients found that half treated with Yescarta saw their disease disappear completely six months after treatment. But the drug led to serious side effects in over half of patients.
What is Yescarta? Axicabtagene ciloleucel (KTE-C19, Axi-cel), marketed as Yescarta, is a treatment for large B-cell lymphoma that has failed conventional treatment are removed from a person with lymphoma and genetically engineered to produce a specific T-cell receptor. The resulting chimeric antigen receptor T cells or “CAR-Ts” that react to the cancer are then given back to the person to populate the bone marrow. Axicabtagene treatment carries a risk for cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and neurological toxicities.