First Patient in Wales to commence CAR-T Treatment at UHW

Posted on November 3rd 2019

Following months of research and the collaboration of Advanced Therapies Wales and its key partners, Wales saw the first patient in Wales commence CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell) therapy at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. 

71-year old John Davies from Blackwood, was diagnosed with lymphoma 5 years ago following a routine check-up, and becomes the first patient in Wales to undergo CAR-T treatment. The retired civil servant, has had other unsuccessful treatments prior and had to undergo a series of stringent tests to ensure his suitability for this treatment.

Mr Davies said, “After previously failed treatments, I feel lucky to have been offered this opportunity. I feel like I a pioneer and if sharing my story can help other people, then I am happy to do it.”

Blood samples were collected for six hours with healthy T-cells separated and transported in a Nano Cool box – a special cooling box- to Amsterdam where his cells will be stored and transported to California for modification. The engineered cells will then be transported back to Amsterdam and then back to UHW to be administered to the patient in a month’s time.

Car-T therapy is a complex yet personalised immunotherapy based on the individual patient. The process involves taking immune and healthy T-cells from the patient and engineering them to recognise infected cancer cells which are then reintroduced intravenously into the patient, to fight off cancer and restore the normal function of their own immune system.

This treatment has been made possible thanks to funding from WHSCC (Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee) through the New Treatment Fund set up by the Welsh Government in 2017. The aim of the fund is to deliver advanced treatments, such as cell and gene therapies, for patients with chronic and terminal conditions that are resistant to current treatment and medications.

Dr Keith Wilson, Lead Clinician and Consultant Haematologist at UHW said “This is a significant day for precision medicine in Wales and has taken eighteen months of hard work from an incredible team or researchers, clinicians, support staff and partners to make today even possible.

“Fifty percent of patients will respond positively to CAR-T treatment so the next stage after the engineered cells are reintroduced into the patient will be to monitor their progress closely.

“With each treatment created specifically for the individual patient, it’s truly a ground-breaking treatment at the forefront of personalised medicine. This is precision medicine at its best.”

This is truly a first for a Wales and has taken months of hard work and the tireless effort of staff from ATW, Velindre, Welsh Blood Service, WHSCC and the CAV UHB Haematology team and support staff to get to this stage and we are excited about what this means for the future of medicine in Wales.

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