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Partnership between the São Paulo state government, Butantan and the University of São Paulo (USP) aims to offer innovative cancer treatment in the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS)

Publicado em: 01/01/1970

The Cell Therapy Program launched by Instituto Butantan in partnership with the São Paulo state government this Tuesday (14) aims to offer an innovative and high-cost cancer treatment in the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS). The initiative is the result of a partnership with the School of Medicine of the University of São Paulo (FMUSP), the School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto (FMRP-USP) and the Ribeirão Preto Blood Center.

“Our goal is to incorporate this technology so that it is available to our public health patients, that is why we have two units. This is a great opportunity to see the birth of an industry in our state of São Paulo”, said the president of Instituto Butantan, Dimas Covas, when lauching the program. 

The cancer treatment characterized by the use of cells from the patients' immune system, a technology known as CAR-T cell, is considered innovative because it allows the cure or remission of lymphomas and leukemia. For its execution, the therapy will be based on modified cells produced in the Cell Therapy Center (Nucel), located in São Paulo (SP), and in the Advanced Therapy Center (Nutera), located in Ribeirão Preto (SP). Together, these centers will have the capacity to produce cells that can serve up to 300 patients per year.

As it is a high-tech, high-priced treatment, which costs around US$ 1 million per patient, it is dependent on imported supplies. Therefore, its implementation in Brazil can bring the necessary self-sufficiency to make it viable throughout the public system, which is the program’s objective. “We want independence and autonomy in this sector”, reiterated Dimas.

For the rector of the University of São Paulo (USP), Carlos Gilberto Carlotti, offering the CAR-T cell cancer treatment in the public health system will benefit all Brazilians. “As of now we buy medication from abroad, even monoclonal antibodies, and today there is a great possibility that we will carry out the treatment in Brazil and reach patients in the public system. And with that we benefit the entire Brazilian population”.

Universal access is the ultimate goal of the program, said the São Paulo State Secretary of Science, Research and Development in Health, David Uip. “This treatment is not only innovative, but over time it will also become accessible, and that is what we aim for. It is the possibility for all Brazilians, without exception, to have access to it”, he said.