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Dubai: A new immune therapy treatment harvesting autologous stem cells (cells from patient’s own bone marrow) has been successful in treating different blood cancers and new research indicates that within three years, a vaccine will be available in the market to start pre-emptive treatment of many cancers.

Unveiling the success of the new treatments, Professor Ghulam J Mufti, haematological oncologist from the King’s College of London delivered an informative lecture at the 360 approach to patient management organised by KCH in Dubai on Thursday.

Dr Mufti said: “This is the new treatment created with the Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells (CAR T cells ) which has shown a 60-90 per cent success rate in patients of Acute Lympohblastic (ALL) and Acute Myloid Leukaemia (AML). In most cases these were patients with chemotherapy and failed remissions with few weeks to live.”

He said the new CAR T Cell therapy basically involves extracting the patient’s own bone marrow cells and arming them with genetically modified T cells that are designed to recognise the malignant cells and destroy them with specific antigens.

“But this process takes at least 30 days as the patient needs to undergo chemotherapy, then the cells are extracted and expanded before being injected back into the patient’s bone marrow which takes a period of 30 days. Although the treatment is successful in up to 90 per cent of cases, it is very expensive and time-consuming. The new age evolving CAR T cells are being made out of allogens (not native to an individual patient’s bone marrow). This saves the preparation time and is cheaper as well. Trials on the allogeneic CAR T cells are undergoing. 16 patients under Phase I and 36 patients under Phase II have been successfully treated,” said Professor Mufti.

The next stage of this research that is underway involves the creation of a ‘vaccine’ for preventive treatment of blood cancers. Professor Mufti explained: “There are certain types of blood cancers that are prevalent in the Middle Eastern region owing to consanguineous marriages. We can introduce the CAR T cells pre-emptively in individuals with a family history of these luekaemias who have a residual of the disease. We are working closely with hematologists of this region.”

Patients undergoing treatment at KCH branches in UAE can go in for the CAR T treatment for the first 100 days and then in a continuum return for critical aftercare to UAE to be under the treatment of their hematologists here thereby bringing down the cost of treatment. “Besides that, UAE can become the regional hub for CAR T cell treatment working closely with KCH London,” said Professor Mufti.