Despite the title of a popular TV sitcom, it’s not always sunny in Philadelphia, but it has gotten brighter for those on the frontlines of cancer. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on Iovance Biotherapeutics’s plans to build a $125 million, 136,000-square-foot facility in the city that will manufacture its yet-to-be-approved breakthrough cancer therapy. Not only does that mean jobs, but it puts the city on the cutting edge in the fight against cancer.
Iovance would manufacture lifileucel, the first T-cell therapy specifically geared to attack solid tumors. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) such as lifileucel, would be an alternative to CAR-T therapies, which kill cancerous blood cells but have not had similar success with tumors. “And solid cancers make up 90% of the 1.7 million new cancers diagnosed annually in the U.S.,” the Inquirer reports.
The bottom line, though, can be found toward the bottom of the article. CAR-T therapies are expensive, between $375,000 to $475,000 for the single-dose treatment and that doesn’t include hospital stays for sometimes fierce side effects, which can push the price well over $1 million.
No price has been set yet for lifileucel, so it can be expensive too. But it does present competition. Maria Fardis, Iovance’s CEO, says it will be considerably less expensive than CAR-T therapies. Furthermore, Fardis predicts that over the next 10 to 15 years prices will come down as more cellular immunotherapies come on the market.