Indian-origin teen first to receive pioneering cancer treatment by NHS England


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Yuvan Thakkar, an Indian-origin 16 year old diagnosed with cancer, says he is now able to enjoy the things he loves after life-changing treatment thanks to a fund set up by the UK’s state-funded National Health Service to make innovative therapies accessible to thousands of patients.

“My life has changed so much since I received the CAR T therapy,” said Yuvan, who thanked Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London for the “incredible” care he received.

According to NHS England, Yuvan from Watford near London was the first child in the UK to benefit from a pioneering CAR T therapy called tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah) thanks to its Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

It comes as the National Health Service (NHS) marks a milestone this weekend of 100,000 patients benefitting from early access to the latest and most innovative treatments with the help of CDF. The undisclosed cost of such treatments is covered by the fund.

Mr Thakkar, diagnosed with a form of leukaemia aged six, received a treatment which modifies a person’s immune cells to recognise and attack cancer cells.

His treatment began in 2019, when he was 11 years old after he relapsed following other treatments such as chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. His mother Sapna said the family had received a “second chance” at life since the success of the treatment. Without the fast-track access available through the CDF, the 45-year-old said there may have been no other way for her son to receive the life-saving treatment.

The CDF, which opened in its current form in July 2016, is used by NHS England to provide fast-tracked access for patients to all new cancer treatments approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), in addition to gathering further evidence of long-term effectiveness for promising drugs. It allows faster access to more than 100 drugs to help improve, extend or – in some cases – save their lives.

“Treating 100,000 cancer patients in England with innovative treatments through the Cancer Drugs Fund is a fantastic milestone for the health service to reach, and testament to the hard work of oncologists and their teams across the country,” said Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director.

The fund benefits people with common cancers, such as breast, lung, colorectal and prostate, as well as those with less common cancers, such as ovarian, cervical, kidney, skin, myeloma, lymphoma and leukaemia, and rare cancers, including thyroid and biliary tract.

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