Kite Pharma cell-therapy specialists at work. (Kite Pharma via AP, File) (Kite Pharma via AP, File)
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“The FDA approval of Yescarta is a landmark for patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma,” said Dr. Arie Belldegrun, founder of Israel-based Kite Pharma.

Less than two months after being acquired by Pharmaceutical giant Gilead for $12B, Israel-based biotech company Kite Pharma obtained US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a cancer treatment drug they have been developing.

The drug, called YESCARTA, is aimed at treatment of certain types of blood cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

What YESCARTA does is utilize white blood T-cells and ‘reprograms’ them to fight cancer cells. A single treatment with this drug will cost $373,000 in the US.

“The FDA approval of Yescarta is a landmark for patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma. This approval would not have been possible without the courageous commitment of patients and clinicians, as well as the ongoing dedication of Kite’s employees,” said Dr. Arie Belldegrun, founder of Kite.

“Today is an important day for patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma who have run out of options and have been waiting for new treatments that may help them in their fight against cancer,” said John Milligan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gilead Sciences. “With the combined innovation, talent and drive of the Kite and Gilead teams, we will rapidly advance cell therapy research and aim to bring new options to patients with many other types of cancer.”

Approval of the treatment has led to a four percent spike in Gilead stock.

By: Yona Schnitzer/TPS and United with Israel Staff