The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the nation’s first cancer gene therapy drug, which received its initial funding from Stamford-based Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT).
Novartis’ CAR-T gene therapy drug Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) will be used in the treatment of pediatric and young adult patients with a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The drug received $1 million in funding in 2004 from AGCT while it was still in development by Carl June of the University of Pennsylvania. ACGT provided an additional $800,000 of funding in 2008. ACGT noted their organization funded this research before government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry took notice of this endeavor.
“This approval by the FDA of Kymriah CAR-T therapy is a major milestone in the successful treatment of cancer,” said John Walter, CEO and president of ACGT. “This is the first-ever true gene therapy treatment made available to the US population and will help accelerate the speed at which we will see even more gene-based therapies come to fruition. It’s a very exciting time.”
Since its founding in 2001, ACGT has allocated approximately $29 million in grants to U.S. and Canadian cancer gene therapy research projects.