Regulators in the United States have approved the first gene therapy treatment for leukemia, which comes with a price tag of $475,000 (N144.87 million).

The Guardian UK reports that the treatment, which was made by Novartis and is marketed as Kymriah, will use the patient’s cells to fight the disease.

Kymriah is a one-time intravenous treatment administered to patients.

“This a brand new way of treating cancer,” said Stephan Grupp, a doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Grupp is credited with treating a patient using the new immunotherapy procedure; a girl who has been cancer-free for five years since the treatment.

“Five years ago, we began collaborating with the University of Pennsylvania and invested in further developing and bringing what we believed would be a paradigm-changing immunocellular therapy to cancer patients in dire need,” Joseph Jimenez, Novartis CEO said, in a statement.

“With the approval of Kymriah, we are once again delivering on our commitment to change the course of cancer care.”

US regulators approved the treatment after a clinical trial where a single dose of Kymriah left 83% of the 63 participants cancer-free after three months.

To get the treatment, patients would have to travel to one of the 32 centres available in the US where doctors will harvest their white blood cells and ship them to a Norvatis facility in New Jersey where it is edited and sent back.

According to the company, the whole process takes about 22 days.



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