Latest leukemia treatment the immune system programmed to kill cancer cells

Posted on January 26, 2013 by

A year ago doctors at the University of Pennsylvania began a bold experiment on a patient with leukemia when all else failed. They removed a billion of his T-cells- the white blood cell that fights viruses and tumors and gave them new genes which programmed the cells to attack his cancer. After 10 days, he began to shake with chills, his temperature shot up and he was so ill that he was place in the ICU. A few weeks later the fevers subsided and the leukemia was gone. There was not trace of it anywhere in his blood or bone marrow. A year later he remains in complete remission playing golf and doing yard work. The new treatment is now being tailored for various other types of cancer–the concept hoped for for decades, training the person’s own immune system to kill cancer cells. To make the T-cells seek out and destroy the cancer cells, they must be taught to recognize the cancer, attack it, multiply and live on inside the patient. Presently the treatment is not without its side effects. It can attack healthy tissue. With more study and trials the treatment is expected to be refined and larger clinical trials scheduled. Leading this research is Dr. Carl June, Director of translational medicine in the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

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