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KFSHRC Successfully Produces the First Therapeutic T-Cells in the Kingdom

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Treatment Costs Reduced by around 80% and Accelerated Access to Treatment

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, June 23, 2024 – King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre (KFSHRC) has successfully produced CAR T-cells internally for cancer treatment. This breakthrough has reduced the cost of treatment from 1.3 million SAR to approximately 250,000 SAR per treatment, making it available to patients within 14 days. This achievement overcomes all cost and shipping challenges, alleviating patient suffering by providing timely treatment and supporting national efforts to localize biotechnological industries.

The announcement of this milestone, which further solidifies KFSHRC’s position as a leader in specialized healthcare, was made during the opening of the Advanced Therapies Forum held this Sunday morning. The forum aims to expand the number of clinical trials in T-cell therapy and gene therapy, providing patients in the Kingdom with access to these novel treatments and offering industrial partners the opportunity to explore clinical research initiatives at KFSHRC.

Prior to the internal production of the treatment, the production period ranged from 21 to 28 days due to manufacturing outside the Kingdom. This subjected the process to numerous logistical challenges and supply chain disruptions, including cryopreservation, shipping to external manufacturing centres, and subsequent re-shipping back to the hospital, often resulting in potential delays in treatment access and prolonged patient suffering.

This accomplishment is the result of seamless collaboration between various departments within the hospital, housed in an internal T-cell manufacturing centre equipped with advanced bioreactors and cell processing units. These adhere to strict regulatory standards to ensure the quality and safety of therapeutic products, preceded by comprehensive staff training programs on the principles and techniques of T-cell manufacturing. In the current phase, the internally produced T-cells will be offered to patients as part of a clinical trial at KFSHRC.

T-cell therapy is one of the latest developments in cancer treatment, involving the modification of a patient’s immune cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells. The cells are extracted from the patient’s blood, genetically modified in manufacturing centres, and then re-injected into the patient’s body to target and destroy cancer cells.

This achievement is part of KFSHRC’s strategy to develop advanced therapies and increase clinical research opportunities, ensuring the delivery of the best possible healthcare for all patients, in line with the hospital’s commitment to enhancing healthcare quality driven by innovation and excellence.

It is noteworthy that King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre has been ranked first in the Middle East and Africa and 20th globally in the list of the world’s top 250 Academic Medical Centres for the second consecutive year and recognized as the most valuable healthcare brand in the Kingdom and the Middle East, according to the 2024 Brand Finance rankings. Additionally, in the same year, it was ranked among the world’s best 250 hospitals by Newsweek magazine.

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