WITHIN just eight days of starting a novel gene therapy, David Aponte’s “incurable” leukaemia had vanished. For four other patients, the same happened within eight weeks, although one later died from a blood clot unrelated to the treatment, and another after relapsing.
The cured trio, who were all previously diagnosed with usually fatal relapses of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, have now been in remission for between 5 months and 2 years. Michel Sadelain of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, co-leader of the group that designed the trial, says that a second trial of 50 patients is being readied, and the team is looking into using the technique to treat other cancers.
The key to the new therapy is identifying a molecule unique to the surface of cancer cells, then genetically engineering a patient’s immune cells to attack it.
Crazy and inspiring I am a leukemia cancer survivor ❤
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