Cancer treatments

CMS proposes new payment rate for pricey, personalized CAR-T cancer treatments

In this image, the back of a scientist's head is visible as he arranges research materials and lab tools on a shelf. He's wearing a white lab coat.
A biologist works on immunotherapy for HPV+ cancers at the National Cancer Institute. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a proposed rule yesterday addressing Medicare hospital payments in 2020, including how hospitals will be reimbursed for CAR-T therapies.

The big picture: These are medical procedures that use a patient's own cells to fight cancer — a treatment that also comes with a high price tag.

Advances made in lymphoma cancer vaccine treatment, study finds

Photo from science study of tumors before and after vaccine treatment
Systemic tumor regression in patients with indolent B cell lymphoma before vaccine (on left) and after vaccine. Photo: Joshua Brody/Mount Sinai Health System

Scientists announced a preliminary success in devising a cancer "vaccine" that was able to help prime the immune system to attack lymphoma cancer tumors in some patients, leading to a period of remission, according to a clinical study of 11 patients published in Nature Medicine Monday.

Why it matters: Indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas (iNHLs) tend to be a slow-growing cancer that is incurable with standard therapy and poorly responsive to a newer type of treatment called checkpoint blockade. Scientists have been seeking ways to broaden the response of immunotherapy to more patients, and a therapeutic cancer vaccine is one option that's under consideration.