Cell and gene therapies at the forefront of innovative medical care: Implications for South Africa
AbstractThe fields of cell and gene therapy are moving rapidly towards providing innovative cures for incurable diseases. A current and highly topical example is immunotherapies involving T-cells that express chimeric antigen receptors (CAR T-cells), which have shown promise in the treatment of leukaemia and lymphoma. These new medicines are indicative of the changes we can anticipate in the practice of medicine in the near future. Despite their promise, they pose challenges for introduction into the healthcare sector in South Africa (SA), including: (i) that they are technologically demanding and their manufacture is resource intensive; (ii) that the regulatory system is underdeveloped and likely to be challenged by ethical, legal and social requirements that accompany these new therapies; and (iii) that costs are likely to be prohibitive, at least initially, and before economies of scale take effect. Investment should be made into finding novel and innovative ways to introduce these therapies into SA sooner rather than later to ensure that SA patients are not excluded from these exciting new opportunities
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