Portal do Butantan

New advanced cancer therapy center is inaugurated in Ribeirão Preto by the government of Sao Paulo, Butantan and USP

Publicado em: 01/01/1970

The works of the Advanced Therapy Center (Nutera), in Ribeirão Preto, were delivered this Monday (20/6) by the government of São Paulo together with Instituto Butantan, the University of São Paulo and the Blood Center of Ribeirão Preto. Nutera-Ribeirão Preto is part of the largest advanced cancer treatment program in Latin America together with Nutera-São Paulo, the first center of this initiative inaugurated in the city of São Paulo last week. Together, they will have the capacity to treat 300 cancer patients per year.

The units are going to produce CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor) cell therapy, which uses defense cells from the cancer patient's body to fight blood cancer, such as lymphomas and leukemia. Among the advantages of the therapy are the reduction of chemotherapy sessions and the greater chance of total or partial cancer remission.

According to the president of Instituto Butantan, Dimas Covas, the delivery of the new center completes the initiative to create a modern pole of innovative treatment against blood cancer and, in the future, against other types of oncological diseases. In Brazil, CAR-T cell therapy has been developed in partnership between institutions and the state government and under the supervision of the State Department of Science, Research and Development in Health.

“Today we set foot in modernity, in the universe that will save thousands and thousands of people. It is an indescribable feeling not only for me, but for all of us who took part in this endeavor. It's a day to remember forever", said Dimas during the handover of the Nutera project, which was also attended by the governor of São Paulo, Rodrigo Garcia, the state secretary of Science, Research and Development in Health, David Uip, state secretary of Health, Jean Gorinchteyn, the rector of USP, Carlos Gilberto Carlotti, and the mayor of Ribeirão Preto, Antônio Duarte Nogueira Júnior.

Cell therapy is considered innovative, as it has already been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of lymphomas and acute lymphocytic leukemia. “It is the modern way of doing science. Making the research reach the end, which is the patient, is what we all want”, emphasized the president of Butantan.

The governor of São Paulo, Rodrigo Garcia, announced during the delivery of Nutera that R$ 200 million were invested in the two cell therapy centers.

“This is a way of showing that investment in research is worthwhile. São Paulo, which has always rewarded research and knowledge, demonstrates today how important public and private investment in science is so that we can produce new therapies, new medicines and can face modern diseases,” he highlighted.

For the secretary of Science, Research and Development in Health, David Uip, the centers will place the state of São Paulo on a similar level to that of the richest countries that already use the therapy in cancer treatment.

“What we are doing today is something unusual in Latin America and places Ribeirão Preto and São Paulo on the map of the main countries in the world, such as China, the United States and European countries, in addition to placing the state of São Paulo as a lever so that all of Brazil can reproduce what we do today. It is a breakthrough to be celebrated by all Brazilians,” he said during the inauguration of the center in the countryside of São Paulo.

Although cell therapy is already used in other countries, its biggest obstacle is the high cost, which can reach up to US$ 1 million [US$ 500 thousand per application and another US$ 500 thousand for hospitalization, on average] per application, explains Dimas. Therefore, its implementation by public agencies aims to reduce the cost of therapy in Brazil as much as possible, promoting it on a large scale in the Unified Health System (SUS).

“We want independence and autonomy in this sector”, said Dimas during the delivery of Nutera-SP.

Understand the project

The São Paulo and Ribeirão Preto units have structures that allow the production, development and storage of cell therapy, which will be applied in a clinical trial on 30 patients at Hospital das Clínicas de São Paulo, Hospital das Clínicas de Ribeirão Preto and the Hospital das Clínicas of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) who did not reach satisfactory results with traditional cancer treatment.

The facilities include quality control laboratories, cryopreservation rooms, virus production rooms, clean rooms for the production of CAR-T cells and for the preparation of media and solutions, as well as areas for the storage of the final product and inputs in cryogenic tanks.

CAR-T cell therapy was developed at the Center for Cell-based Therapy at the Ribeirão Preto Medical School at USP. The first volunteer from Brazil, who received the experimental treatment two years ago, achieved total remission of an end-stage lymphoma. Other patients who opted for treatment also experienced remission.