7-Minute Cancer Treatment Is a World First

It's so long, IV drip, and hello, atezolizumab injection for patients in England
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2023 6:33 PM CDT
7-Minute Cancer Treatment Is a World First
This photo provided by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, shows the drug Tecentriq.   (Genentech via AP)

Cancer patients in England will be the first to benefit from an injection that will cut treatment times by up to 75%. Atezolizumab, sold under the brand name Tecentriq, is a monoclonal antibody medication that blocks a protein that prevents the immune system from attacking cancer cells and is used to treat cancers of the lung, breast, liver, and bladder, reports the Guardian. It's typically given to patients intravenously through an IV drip in a process that can take up to an hour if there's difficulty in finding a vein. But now, with approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, England's National Health Service will begin offering much faster atezolizumab injections. "It takes approximately seven minutes, compared with 30 to 60 minutes for the current method," says Marius Scholtz, medical director for manufacturer Roche.

It's expected that the majority of the 3,600 patients in England who receive the drug each year will now get it through injection, though patients who receive intravenous chemotherapy with atezolizumab can remain on the transfusion, per Reuters. Studies indicate under-the-skin injections are preferable to IV infusion due to reduced pain, ease of administration, and faster treatment, per the Guardian. "The world-first introduction of this treatment will mean that hundreds of patients can spend less time at the hospital and will free up valuable time in NHS chemotherapy units," says Peter Johnson, NHS England's national director for cancer, per the Telegraph. Dr. Alexander Martin, a consultant oncologist at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, says the approval "will enable our teams to treat more patients throughout the day." (More cancer treatment stories.)

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