The announcement by the Health Minister Speranza: “60 million to 6 workshops to produce Car-T against cancer”
The Car-t therapies are “a strategic segment on which the government has decided to invest 60 million euros, foreseeing 10 million for each pharmaceutical workshop”, or high-tech laboratories in which the patient’s immune cells against tumors are modified.
This was announced by Health Minister Roberto Speranza in his speech before the Senate and Social Affairs Hygiene and Health Committees of the House on the programmatic guidelines of his ministry. A decision that has therefore confirmed the commitment of the Ministry of Health “in the preparation and implementation of the Italia Car-T Cell project to identify the pharmaceutical workshops, in the context of hospital facilities, capable of producing gene therapies”.
The six pharmaceutical workshops – the minister added – “will be identified with a ministerial decree and with the State-Regions Conference. To this end, a comparison is underway with the Regions, to select the hospital structures where to allocate the investments, taking care to guarantee a fair territorial distribution ”.
The choice of centers for this advanced form of immunotherapy is essential. The deputy minister of health, Pierpaolo Sileri, warns of the risk of dispersing resources. “For innovative therapies we will find funding and we will make it sustainable and above all accessible to all those who need it, provided that no dispersion is generated with centers that are born as ‘mushrooms’ but then are unable to complete the results”, he said, speaking today at the ministry at the presentation of the second Italian report on Atmp-Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products. “We need an adequate lease of money – continued Sileri – in the sense that we need to give money only to those centers that are able to produce level research and results. This for patients means guarantee that in those centers they can get the best treatment “.
Car-T therapies are a latest-generation immunotherapeutic strategy that uses white blood cells taken from the patient and specially engineered to activate the immune system; once reinfused, they enter the bloodstream and are able to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. Recently the therapy – developed in the US and patented in the form of two drugs by the giants Novartis and Gilead – was also approved in Italy, with the go-ahead by the Aifa to the reimbursement of Kymriah, a drug produced by Novartis. Treatment price for a single patient: 320 thousand euros.
For now, the therapy has been approved for two types of tumors: diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) resistant to other therapies or which has reappeared after a response to standard treatments, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with B cells in patients up to 25 years of age. However, recent studies suggest the efficacy of Car-T also on other tumors, including solid ones.Italy is one of the most advanced countries in terms of research on Car-T.
Precisely to capitalize on this expertise – as well as to outline a path to economic sustainability for the future – the Culture Commission of the Chamber established the Car-T cells Italia Project Group with a decree dated 11 March 2019. Scientific coordinator: Franco Locatelli, director of the Onco Department – Hematology and Cell and Gene Therapy of the Bambino Gesù pediatric hospital, the leading Italian expert in therapy.
“Car-T is a therapeutic sector with enormous potential and our country is a pioneer in this type of treatment. With the 60 million euros provided for the six pharmaceutical factories that will produce Car-T oxygen comes for these therapies, “Speranza said today. So far, nothing new.
Now it will be a question of monitoring the development and timing of the Italian route at the Car-T, knowing that the 60 million euros decided by Speranza can only be a start.