Sunday, August 18, 2013

Promising cancer trial: Human trials show 75% success in curing Leukemia

Stunning... and hopeful for those who have known others with cancer (PhillyMag via HN):

June loved this approach. So elegant. Put the immune system on steroids. What if you could train the body to fight cancer on its own? What if, instead of replacing a patient’s immune system (as in a bone-marrow transplant) or pumping him full of poison (chemo), you could just borrow some cells, tweak them, and infuse them back into the patient? In theory, the engineered cells would stay alive in the blood, replenishing themselves, killing any tumors that recurred. It occurred to June that one infusion could last a lifetime.

He was also excited by the flexibility of engineered T cells. Normally, a drug for one kind of cancer couldn’t ever work on another kind; you had to start over from scratch. But here, since you were starting with a T cell and adding a limb, you only had to change the shape of the limb. You could snap a new piece on the end, like a LEGO, that fit into a molecule on the surface of a breast-cancer cell, or a pancreatic-cancer cell, or whatever kind of cancer you wanted to attack.

[...] Before the trial, 90 percent of Walt’s bone marrow cells had been cancerous. Now, doctors couldn’t find any trace of the disease, Porter said. They still had to do more tests. But Walt appeared to be in complete remission. Up to seven pounds of tumor, obliterated, gone.
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