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A cancer patient is the first in Wales to receive genetic treatment

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Media headline"I'm not happy about what I need, but I'm lucky to have the panel approved," says Johnson Davis

Patient became the first in Wales to embark on a revolutionary new genetic treatment for blood cancer.

CAR-T therapy involves genetic modification of one type of the body's immune cells in the hope that they will then recognize and destroy the cancer cells.

Johnwood Davis, 71, of Blackwood will freeze blood in Amsterdam, then modified in the United States before being transfused next month.

Despite chemotherapy for several years, Johnson's lymphoma has not been cured.

This is the first time in Wales the treatment has been offered in green light for NHS use last year.

The exact cost of the treatment is commercially sensitive, but is believed to be about one third of a million pounds.

In Wales, it is funding the Welsh Committee for Specialized Health Services through a new treatment fund set up by the Government of Wales in 2017.

In England, CAR-T therapy is funded through the Cancer Fund.

This form of immunotherapy is a real world example of precision medicine as it should be developed for each individual patient.

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Johnson says, "I expect the worst and hope for the best"

Retired civil servant Johnson discovered he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma five years ago when he went for a routine checkup.

He had a number of unsuccessful treatments before treatment with FAR-T was available.

"It's not automatic – I'm glad I need it, but I'm lucky to get the panel approved," he said.

"I'm a little pioneer, doing this I hope will help those who come behind me – it may not work for me, so I expect the worst and hope for the best."

What will happen to John's blood?

Parts of the immune system – white blood cells called T-cells – were removed from Johnson's blood at University Hospital Wales in Cardiff on Monday.

Later in the afternoon, they were sent by courier to Amsterdam and frozen in liquid nitrogen before being transferred to a laboratory in California.

There, white blood cells will be genetically reprogrammed so that instead of killing bacteria and viruses, they will kill and kill cancer cells.

They are now "chimeric antigenic T-cell receptors" – or CAR-T cells.

The cells will then multiply before being returned to Cardiff and returned to Johnson within about a month.

Johnson will need to be closely monitored in the hospital for potentially dangerous side effects after being given the modified cells.

Bee is following Johnon's progress over the next few months.

This is a new therapy and many long-term data are still being generated, but clinical trials have shown that 40% of patients have all the signs of their otherwise incurable, terminal lymphoma eliminated from their body 15 months after treatment.

It was approved by the National Institutes of Health and Health Excellence for NHS use in 2018 for specific patients for whom other forms of treatment were unsuccessful.

Cardiff is ninth in the UK in offering treatment – one of 13 specialized centers that we hope will eventually be able to offer.

About 130 patients in the UK have received CAR-T treatment so far in 2019.

Funding should be approved on a case-by-case basis and an assessment of its cost-effectiveness will be made.

Keith Wilson, clinical director of the South Wales Blood and Brain Transplant Program, said: "This is a personalized medicine at best. It is custom-made, tailored to the patient and is unique to that particular patient.

"He needs to donate his cells, they are then tailored to match his and the cancer, and then when we return to him in about a month, those cells will do what the immune system does – to fight back. infection. Except in this case they are deceived into thinking that cancer is an infection. "

He said he was very grateful.

"I've been paying my tax … for 40 years now, but I think I'm now largely behind on all the wonderful things."

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