In 2021, biotechnology discussion is mainly focused on AI and cell study. The latter field has blossomed recently, presenting numerous research on cell and gene modifications designed to combat serious and fatal diseases. R.M. Comisel and colleagues’ work sheds light on new developments in cancer treatment and the cost of new therapies. Considering the complexity of therapy creation and expensive equipment, the cost of treatment may aggravate already uneven access to resources.
It is essential to explain what exactly the new technology does and why it is extremely expensive. Studies of lentiviral vectors (LV) positively impacted gene-modified therapies’ efficiency, resulting in the approval of two such treatments. The new generation of LV is characterized by the ability to self-inactivate and the lowest possible genotoxicity risk (Comisel et al. 1). In other words, modern therapies are very effective in combating blood cancers and solid tumors without major threats to human health. Moreover, “LV is employed to insert either absent or mutated genes into CD34+cells’ genomes to tackle rare and monogenic disorders (e.g. ADA-SCID, WAS, MLD, X-ALD, X-SCID etc.) and hemoglobinopathies” (Comisel et al. 1-2). Abbreviations in the brackets stand for different types of diseases that affect the immune and nervous systems. Production-wise, with the low success rate of >100 L for batch, scientists feel the urgency to look for alternative LV therapies creation methods (Comisel et al. 2). For now, the long and variable viral vector production process causes the high cost of such therapies.
As a result, richer people will have access to treatment much earlier than most of the world population. Also, despite the attempts to accelerate the components’ production, there is no guarantee that the final product will be generally affordable. Although it is morally and ethically right for people who worked hard to make a fortune to be able to pay for their treatment, it would be equally correct for states to help develop this technology. Eventually, if the states invest their resources, humanity will win an immense number of dangerous battles in the healthcare field.
Comisel, Ruxandra-Maria & Kara, Bo & Fiesser, Frederick & Farid, Suzanne. (2020). Lentiviral Vector Bioprocess Economics for Cell and Gene Therapy commercialisation. Biochemical Engineering Journal. 167. 107868. 10.1016/j.bej.2020.107868.