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On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first cell-based gene therapy in the United States.

The FDA called the new therapy historic, and FDA officials called U.S. Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson on Wednesday to relay the news of the agency’s approval of the groundbreaking therapy.

Georgia U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson worked on the legislation that allowed for the innovation of new treatments under the Advancing Hope Act.

Isakson’s commitment to helping find effective treatments for rare pediatric diseases began in 2004, following a visit from Alexa Rohrbach, a young Georgian suffering from a rare cancer who came to see Isakson to ask for his help in finding a cure. Alexa passed away in 2008, but Isakson said that her memory is “a reminder of why getting a result on bills like this one is as critical as anything we could ever do in the United States Senate.” He shared Alexa’s story on the Senate floor in 2016 to urge his colleagues to support an extension of the priority review program.

The legislation extends the Rare Pediatric Disease Priority Review Voucher Program and was included in the 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law in December 2016.

The FDA approved and innovative therapy called Kymriah. Scientists refer to this new therapy as a “living drug” because the drug genetically modified immune cells and reprograms patient’s own cells to attack their cancer.

“This type of therapy is exactly what we had in mind when I began working for the Advancing Hope Act, which was ultimately approved and extended in last year’s 21st Century Cures legislation,” said Isakson. “When I heard this wonderful news directly from the FDA yesterday, I thanked them and told them to get it on the market, because it’s time to start saving kids’ lives.”

 

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Jeremy Spencer is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden  and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus will be local news, statewide education issues, and political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as a education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns.

Jeremy grew up in rural Southern Georgia and he has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, and a state education official.  Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. He and his wife have lived in Camden County for 16 years and they have two teenage children. Jeremy and his family attend Christ Church Camden in Kingsland, GA.

camden@allongeorgia.com

 

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