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Personalised CAR-T therapy available in Croatia

(Photo: KBC Zagreb)

ZAGREB, 19 December (Hina) – As of the new year, children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and adults with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma will be able to be treated at the KBC hospital in Zagreb, the first hospital in the region accredited to apply personalised CAR-T therapy in the treatment of these diseases.

CAR-T therapy is a one-off personalised therapy based on genetic modification of a patient’s immune cells so that they can recognise and attack cancer cells. It combines immunotherapy, cellular and gene therapy.

The first such therapy was approved in 2017. It costs HRK 2.5 million (Ђ338,000) and is included on the Croatian Health Insurance Institute’s list of highly expensive medicines.

“HZZO does not limit the number of therapies included on the list of highly expensive medicines. … Our projection is that there would be between 25 and 30 patients for both indications for which the drug is approved. It should be noted that with regard to acute lymphoblastic leukemia it does not apply only to children but also to persons aged up to 25 years,” the head of the KBC Department for Hematology, Igor Aurer, told a press conference on Wednesday.

The head of the Department for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Ernest Bilic, said: “This therapy is not for all patients but only for those with resistant leukemia, who have not benefited from previous therapies. It is for a small group of patients under very clear criteria.” He added that this year they had only one patient meeting the CAR-T therapy criteria.

Bilic said it is still unknown whether this therapy is sufficient for successful treatment or whether in a certain number of patients it means bridging the time to a new bone marrow transplantation.

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