On 25 March the ABC reported that the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne would be the first home of newly approved CAR-T therapy treatment in Australia.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has pledged $80 million towards the new $105 million treatment centre housed at Peter McCallum. The centre would be the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

Kymriah (tisangenleleucel), a CAR-T therapy for relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in paediatric and young adult patients, was approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australian late last year, at a cost of $598,000 per patient. The Medical Services Advisory Committee on public funding is currently deciding whether public funding will be available to cover the costs. A decision is expected within weeks, reports the ABC.

The Peter MacCallum has already started using CAR-T cell therapy to treat patients in clinical trials.

Kymriah was approved for use in the United States in 2017, along with the only other CAR-T cell therapy on the market, Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) for adults with certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma who have failed at least two other kinds of treatment. Kymriah was approved for use in Europe in August 2018, Australia in December 2018 and in Japan last month.

CAR-T cell therapies have shown remarkable efficacy in treating some blood cancers, but there has been limited success in the treatment of solid cancers. Carina Biotech is working to change this with our broad-spectrum CAR-T cell therapy targeted at a marker found on a wide variety of solid tumours. We’re feeling optimistic as we move towards readiness for a first-in-human clinical trial in 2020. As always, WATCH THIS SPACE!