«We do immigration, not healthcare emigration, for a much larger catchment area»

The possibility of personalizing treatments, engineering a patient’s cells and thus reaching therapeutic targets that were unimaginable until a few years ago. In fact, this is one of the most disruptive innovations in modern biomedical research. A method that involves the so-called therapies CAR-T (acronym for ChimericAntigenReceptor T. cell.) assert itself more and more, representing a sort of Copernican revolution. The treatments are in fact based on a completely new approach that looks at T lymphocytes as the key to accessing the cure; the lymphocytes are in fact taken from a patient and subsequently reinfused into the same patient, after having been genetically modified to defeat the tumor cells. A cure that essentially arises from the same body affected by the disease.
Furthermore, this type of therapy offers a therapeutic (and life) chance in cases where traditional onco-haematological treatments have exhausted their ability to provide answers. Or when, as in the case of transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia and sickle cell anemia, traditional treatments cause significant effects on the quality of life of patients forced to continuously undergo transfusions.
From 27 to 30 June in Reggio Calabria, where there is a transplant center that is now a recognized point of reference on the national scene, these issues will be discussed over the course of three days (SEE THE PROGRAM) which will provide, objectively, a different key to understanding Calabrian healthcare, too often mistreated by approaches with an unmotivated rate of generalization.

The new horizons of hematology

«Our work up to now has certainly been linked to immunogenetics and partial cell engineering methodshowever – he tells us Giuseppe Consul – Permanent Medical Director, Deputy Director, Responsible for the bone marrow donor register – the turning point took place 3-4 years ago. A turning point based on the engineering of the white blood cells of certain types of patients and for certain types of pathologies, a path that allows the definition of a biological drug intended only for that patient and which has the ability to find the neoplastic cells and to hit them in a way. We could say, simplifying, that an illness is not cured in the abstract but is specifically cured and selectively a patient suffering from a specific pathology. The new horizons of hematology and transplantology are linked precisely to this type of drugs made from the patient’s cells. And probably in the coming years we will be able to see revolutions from this point of view, with the possibility of treatment and even recovery for patients who until some time ago had very little hope.”

Put like this, the reversal of the perspective appears evident even to those who have little or very little familiarity with health issues and insights, in fact the logic of the specific drug but aimed at a generically defined pathology is overcome “until some time ago some pathologies were responded to by chemotherapy treatmentdetailed, with various dosages and modulations but ultimately generalized. The therapies we will discuss in Reggio instead concern drugs that depend on the patient himself, they cannot even be administered to a twin brother».
All this happens also and above all in Reggio Calabria. «This – adds Consul – is a very important point to clarify, it is undeniable that the Calabrian healthcare system has critical issues and problems, but within this system we must also understand that there can be and there are realities of extraordinary value which are not that rare and which are virtuous due to the type of treatments, the specialization and also, I must say, the will and perseverance of those who work there”.
Console provides us with some further specifications «in Reggio the CTMO Single Regional Center for Stem Cell Transplants and Cellular Therapies “A. Neri, embraces the whole of Calabria as a catchment area but precisely because of our specificity, and perhaps also because of what is recognized not only in Italy, we act as a pole of attraction. Here we do immigration, not medical emigration, for a much larger catchment area, which involves all of eastern Sicily, parts of Southern Italy such as Basilicata and sometimes even Campania. I remember – concludes Console – that a few years ago, although not for this type of pathology, but for other transplants, patients also arrived from Trentino Alto Adige. Unfortunately, it often happens that, paradoxically, the public opinion of Reggio or Calabria in general is not aware of this structure, unless they have hematological problems to deal with.” ([email protected])

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