For anyone living with a blood cancer, chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR-T) is a lifeline. Leukaemia and lymphoma patients who have exhausted all other treatment options are given another chance at life. Their own immune system T-cells are genetically engineered to recognise cancer cells and destroy them.
It is expected that the demand for CAR T-cell therapy will grow exponentially as the list of blood cancers that can be effectively treated with CAR-T cell therapy expands. In Australia, CAR-T cell is currently approved for large B-cell lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. In addition, the U.S. FDA has also approved CAR-T cell treatment for mantle cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma and there are rumours that approval for myeloma is imminent. Snowdome’s wish is that patients who need CAR-T cell therapy should be able to access it, when it is needed. Patients should not be waitlisted because demand exceeds availability.
The Snowdome Foundation and Epworth have partnered together to establish the Epworth Centre of Immunotherapies and Snowdome Laboratories. This state-of-the-art facility will ultimately expand the availability of CAR-T cell therapies to Australian patients. This facility has been made possible through generous donors who believe in our mission to accelerate next-generation treatments for Australian blood cancer patients to help them live longer, better lives.
Speaking with Dr Costas Yannakou, Deputy Medical Director of the Department of Molecular Oncology and Cancer Immunology (MOCI) at Epworth HealthCare, he hopes that every patient that meets the criteria for CAR-T cell therapy can receive it in the not-too-distant future. The Epworth Centre for Immunotherapy and Snowdome Laboratories will initially commence by offering autologous stem cell transplantation, with the aim of offering CAR-T cell therapies next year within the context of clinical trials.
We have only just started on this immunotherapy journey. It is Snowdome’s vision to give every Australian blood cancer patient the best opportunity for a cure and we are proud to say the Epworth Centre for Immunotherapy and Snowdome Laboratories brings us one step closer to reaching this vision.