B.C. begins offering in-province immunotherapy treatment for lymphoma, leukemia

B.C. begins offering in-province immunotherapy treatment for lymphoma, leukemia
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix speaks during a health-care funding announcement, in Vancouver on February 12, 2024.

British Columbia is beginning to offer an immunotherapy cancer treatment in the province for some patients who haven’t had success with standard chemotherapy or radiation.

Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell Therapy, commonly referred to as CAR-T, treats lymphoma and leukemia by collecting a patient’s white blood cells and genetically engineering them to recognize and kill cancer cells.

Dr. Kim Chi, the chief medical officer for BC Cancer, says patients who needed the treatment would previously have to be sent outside the province or country.

Provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix says $14.3 million in this year’s budget means up to 20 adults and five children will be able to get treatment at Vancouver General Hospital or BC Children’s Hospital starting this month.

Chi says the therapy is an example of how far cancer treatments have evolved, driven by “cutting edge” research and technology.

MJ Asrat, whose son Hugo received CAR-T therapy as part of a clinical trial, told the press conference announcing the funding that it made him healthy enough to receive a bone-marrow transplant after more than three and a half years of chemotherapy to treat is leukemia.

She said the eight-year-old is now cancer free and “embracing the joys of childhood once again.”

“To the medical researchers who tirelessly push the boundaries of science and to the selfless donors who give hope to families like ours, we owe you an immeasurable debt of gratitude,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2024

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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