New “Living Drug” Treatment for Cancer Approved by FDA

At last, there’s some good news.

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new treatment for certain kinds of blood cancer. Called Yescarta, it’s the second “living drug” therapy for cancer approved this year.

What’s unique about the treatment is that it uses something known as gene therapy, which re-engineers the body’s immune system cells, called T cells, to target cancer specifically. The treatment, dubbed CAR-T in scientific lingo, prompts the body’s own protective cells to recognize and fight cancer.

Kite Pharma, of Santa Monica, California, developed Yescarta. In September, drug maker Gilead purchased Kite for close to $12 billion. That was the largest acquisition that Gilead has ever made, and the purchase signaled to financial analysts that the pharmaceutical company planned to move into new forms of drug treatment.

Healthcare companies working toward new cancer treatments

About 80,000 people a year are diagnosed with blood cancers, which include leukemia and lymphoma. In tests of Yescarta, nearly three quarters of those treated reportedly saw reduction in blood cancer, and remained healthy 8 months later, according to the Associated Press.

In August, the FDA approved a similar therapy for blood cancer, called Kymriah, from drugmaker Novartis, of Switzerland.

The downside: The new treatments are expensive, currently costing between $370,000 and $500,000, according to reports. Yescarta and Kymriah can also have serious side effects, according to both companies. Yescarta has been approved for use in patients where at least two other cancer treatments have proven ineffective.

Kymriah is also approved for use on a restricted basis, according to Novartis.

Top Takeaways:

  • The FDA this week approved a second cancer fighting drug therapy that genetically alters immune system cells to recognize and fight cancer.
  • The treatment, also known as “living drug” therapy prompts the body’s own protective cells to recognize and fight cancer.
  • Kite Pharma, purchased by drug maker Gilead this summer, produces the therapy.
  • Immunotherapy is a new and growing field for pharmaceutical companies to fight cancer and other diseases.

Want to learn more companies that are making advances in healthcare? Check out Modern Meds and Live Long and Prosper, two funds available on Stash.

 






Author:
Jeremy Quittner is the financial writer for Stash.



Disclaimers
This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, represents an assessment of the market environment as of the date of publication, is subject to change without notice, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice or opinion. Stash assumes no obligation to provide notifications of changes in any factors that could affect the information provided. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding any issuer or security in particular. The strategies discussed are strictly for illustrative and educational purposes and should not be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell, or an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. There is no guarantee that any strategies discussed will be effective.

Furthermore, the information presented does not take into consideration commissions, tax implications, or other transactional costs, which may significantly affect the economic consequences of a given strategy or investment decision. This information is not intended as a recommendation to invest in any particular asset class or strategy or as a promise of future performance. There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will work under all market conditions or is suitable for all investors. Each investor should evaluate their ability to invest long term, especially during periods of downturn in the market. Investors should not substitute these materials for professional services, and should seek advice from an independent advisor before acting on any information presented.

Past performance does not guarantee future results. There is a potential for loss as well as gain in investing. Stash does not represent in any manner that the circumstances described herein will result in any particular outcome. While the data and analysis Stash uses from third party sources is believed to be reliable, Stash does not guarantee the accuracy of such information. Nothing in this article should be considered as a solicitation or offer, or recommendation, to buy or sell any particular security or investment product or to engage in any investment strategy. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. Stash does not provide personalized financial planning to investors, such as estate, tax, or retirement planning. Investment advisory services are only provided to investors who become Stash Clients pursuant to a written Advisory Agreement. For more information please visit www.stashinvest.com/disclosures.