Jul 12, 2017

FDA panel recommends leukemia gene therapy for approval

Winfried Rothermel / AP

An FDA panel has recommended that a revolutionary gene therapy treatment — CTL109 from Novartis and the University of Pennsylvania — be approved to fight a rare form of childhood leukemia, which would make it the first gene therapy treatment to reach the market, per the NYT.

Why it matters: It's a potentially game-changing step for cancer treatment. The traditional use of chemotherapy, essentially strong poison sent directly into the bloodstream, might become a thing of the past should gene therapy be proven effective.

  • How it works: Millions of a patient's T-cells are removed and reengineered using a disabled form of HIV to become equipped to attack and destroy B-cells, which are a normal part of the immune system but become malignant when a patient has leukemia. The new T-cells are reintroduced to the patient's bloodstream where they become cancer "serial killers."
  • The limitations: The time needed to reengineer the cells has been knocked down to 22 days from 4 months, but the treatment can only be performed at 30 to 35 approved medical centers. Plus, the initial side effects can be extremely harsh — with severe reactions — and longer-term side effects might still pop up.

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Macy's to furlough 130,000 employees

Macy's flagship store in New York on March 24, 2020. Photo: John Lamparski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Macy's will furlough the majority of it's workers this week, as the chain's stores remain closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Details: Macy's sales have seen a drastic decline, having shuttered its stores on March 18. The company employs about 130,000 people, per the Journal. It will retain workers for its e-commerce operations, distribution and call centers. The chain told staff it will continue to cover 100% of its employees health care premiums at least through May.