Children with a form of leukaemia can now access a ground-breaking new treatment in Ireland instead of having to travel to Britain.
CAR-T cell therapy is used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a common form of child cancer. Around 55 children are diagnosed with the disease in Ireland each year.
The new treatment has been available in England since January 2019, and at least seven Irish families made the journey to Britain to use the therapy, which has been hailed as “revolutionary”.
CAR-T involves taking a patient’s own T cells and effectively reprogramming them to more effectively target cancer. The cells are then infused back into the patient.
Three-year-old Erin Kenna, from County Kildare, was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of just four weeks. Chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at the age of eight months could not keep her cancer at bay, and so in late 2019 she was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London for a course of CAR-T therapy.