A ground-breaking cancer treatment known as CAR-T cell therapy is to be made available to children in Ireland for the first time.

CAR-T is used to treat Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, which is one of the most common childhood cancers.

An average of 55 children are diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in Ireland every year and until now patients had to travel to the UK to avail of the therapy.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia is the most common childhood cancer representing 25% of all cancer diagnosis among children under 15.

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Erin Kenna from Kill in Co Kildare, who is nearly four years old, has fought some tough battles.

She was diagnosed with Leukaemia when she was just four weeks old.

After undergoing chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant she was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London for CAR T Cell therapy in 2019.

Erin's mum and dad Theresa and Joe Kenna say the treatment saved her life.

Theresa says being able to access treatment in Ireland will make a big difference to families.

"We had to move to London and rent and apartment near Great Ormand Street Hospital when we travelled for Erin’s treatment.

"No one wants to be in a position where you need this treatment for your child. But the fact that this will now be available in Ireland for people at home will make a huge difference to families."

Erin is now in remission from cancer and is looking forward to celebrating her birthday on Friday.

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Consultant haematologist and Clinical lead for the CAR-T Service in CHI, Dr Pamela Evans said the treatment is not just a drug or chemotherapy medicine.

She said it is new way of treating the disease and harnessing the patient's own immune system to fight the cancer.

Dr Evans paid tribute to parents who had brought their children to the UK for treatment during a global pandemic.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Evans said it is "probably the most significant advance in leukaemia treatment in a generation", and that the availability of the treatment in Ireland will make an enormous difference.

Although most children are cured with current chemotherapy protocols, around 10% do not respond.

"CAR-T therapy is currently licensed in those terminally ill patients who have run out of all other options. And in this group, the outcomes have exceeded all of our expectations.

"And over a few short years of real-world experience worldwide half of these patients are now cancer free, without needing any more treatments, and many more is still alive following some further therapy," she said.

"It has far-reaching potential beyond acute B cell leukaemia. This is only the start. We hope that it'll soon be available for treating other types of leukaemia," she added.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said it was important the treatment was available for patients in Ireland.

He said it meant patients can now remain closer to family and support networks at home.