3 Reasons Why Many Patients Decide to Get New Treatments for Acute Myeloid Leukemia in Israel
Learn more about the advanced treatments offered at Israel’s state-of-the-art facilities
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It affects a group of white blood cells called myeloid cells, which normally develop into various types of mature blood cells, such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Acute myeloid leukemia occurs when a mutation changes bone marrow cells and causes them to continue growing and dividing unchecked. Normally, they grow at a set rate and die at a specified time. As the blood cell production becomes excessive, the bone marrow also starts producing immature cells that develop into leukemic white blood cells called myeloblasts. These abnormal cells are unable to function properly and can build up and crowd out healthy cells. Common AML treatments include chemotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy. However, new treatments for acute myeloid leukemia, such as bone marrow transplants and CAR T-cell therapy, are only available in countries with advanced healthcare and at select medical institutions.
Bone Marrow Transplantation
When necessary, bone marrow transplants can be performed as part of acute myeloid leukemia treatment. The procedure involves depleting diseased bone marrow with chemotherapy or radiation and then intravenously infusing healthy donor stem cells into the patient. The new stem cells travel to the bone marrow, where they begin to produce new blood cells. At Sheba Medical Center, the largest hospital in Israel, the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation features 14 private rooms, alongside comprehensive, high-tech laboratories and clinics – enabling all steps of the transplant procedure to be carried out efficiently on-site. The department has performed more than 2,000 transplants to date and employs a diverse team of world-renowned specialists, including hematologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists, who all work together to provide optimized treatments for each individual patient.
CAR T-cell Therapy
Israel, and Sheba Medical Center in particular, are world leaders in the implementation of CAR T-cell therapy for acute myeloid leukemia. CAR T-cell therapy is an innovative procedure that makes use of your own immune system to seek and destroy cancerous cells. After some blood is taken from the patient, the T-cells, a type of immune cell, are separated from the rest of the blood in a special laboratory. The T-cells are then genetically engineered to produce chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). The engineered T-cells are then given some time to multiply in the laboratory and are later injected back into the patient. The CARs allow the T-cells to recognize, target and destroy cancer cells.
Unfortunately, as a novel advanced treatment, CAR T-cell therapy is only available in a handful of medical institutions worldwide, and tends to be very expensive. At Sheba Medical Center, CAR T-cells are engineered in-house in a specialized laboratory, and as a result, the entire process, from lymphocyte collection to patient delivery, only takes about 10 days. In contrast, many other hospitals use commercial CARs, which must be engineered abroad and shipped back, taking months to become available. This delay allows the patient’s disease to progress further, which can also reduce the effectiveness of the body’s response to the CARs. Furthermore, the shipping process compromises cell quality, as some cells die during the necessary freezing and thawing.
Reasons to Get New Treatments for Acute Myeloid Leukemia in Israel:
- Advanced Treatment: Medical institutions in Israel and the US often collaborate in advanced cancer research, developing new and effective treatments against the disease, yet Israel has fewer constraints than the US when it comes to adopting novel treatments. Israeli clinical trials still adhere to the highest standards of safety, but innovative treatments are generally made available to patients sooner than in the US.
- Quality of Care: Israeli physicians are exceptionally well-trained and often spend even more time on their medical education than American doctors. Also, you can be assured of high standards and strict safety regulations if you choose a hospital accredited by a trustworthy authority.
- Cost: In many countries, healthcare costs can be exorbitant. Without insurance, the costs of cancer treatment can be crippling. Prices are much lower in Israel, averaging 30-80% less than in the US, for example. That said, you’re not trading affordability for quality, since Israeli specialists, medical institutions, equipment, and procedures are among the most advanced in the world.
Where to Pursue Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment in Israel
Having discovered a few of the many benefits of traveling to Israel to receive one of the new treatments for acute myeloid leukemia, where exactly should you seek treatment in Israel? Sheba Medical Center is an exceptional choice. As the largest hospital in Israel, Sheba is dedicated to providing patients with world-class medical care.
The advantages of receiving acute myeloid leukemia treatment at Sheba Medical Center include:
- Sheba’s extensive experience with CAR T-cell therapy speaks louder than words. Under the expertise of Prof. Arnon Nagler, Director of the Hemato-Oncology Division, and a world-renowned specialist in the field, we have provided over 220 patients with CAR T-cell therapy, including 60 children.
- As a government institution, we have no hidden costs, and our fees are transparent. Although we offer advanced treatments that are available only in select medical institutions around the world, our prices are affordable.
- Sheba’s 360-degree care approach to every patient, which means that Sheba’s professionals will assist you with arranging medical record reviews, travel, visas, accommodations, and language interpretation as needed.
- Sheba has full accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI), the premier international healthcare accrediting group.
- Sheba has both advanced treatment and laboratory facilities. At Sheba, patients receive every aspect of their treatment in a single facility.
- Top-notch facility: Sheba is home to the Ella Lemelbaum Institute for Immuno-Oncology, a modern facility devoted entirely to cancer immunotherapy research and treatment.