Scientists use gene therapy, patients' own immune systems to fight leukemia
Friday, August 12, 2011
Researchers at thehave developed a new treatment for a type of ( ) that uses a patient's own immune system to fight cancer cells. Scientists extracted the blood from three male patients, all of whom suffered from advanced leukemia. They inserted a gene into the patients' (the cells normally responsible for ridding the body of foreign pathogens such as viruses), and the gene reprograms the cells to actively seek out and kill cancer cells within the blood. They then returned the modified blood to the patients.
The patients initially reported symptoms similar to those of a bad case of the flu, but the researchers pointed out that this was likely due to the body's response to rapid cancer cell death all at once. However, once the symptoms subsided, the scientists found that two of the three patients had no signs of leukemia and the third, while still sick, showed significant improvement. Additionally, they discovered that the modified T-cells not only killed existing cancer cells, but brand new ones as well.
Though optimistic, experts say that more research needs to be done to determine if this will be a viable treatment on a large scale and warn that this therapy would not be available as an approved treatment for several more years.
- Ryan Jaslow. "New leukemia therapy destroys cancer by turning blood cells into "assassins"" — , August 11, 2011
- Kathleen Lucadamo. "Doctors claim to have cured leukemia in a few patients by altering their blood cells" — , August 11, 2011
- Madison Park. "'Serial killer' cells can target leukemia, study says" — , August 11, 2011
- Joe Palca. "Gene Therapy Advance Trains Immune System To Fight Leukemia" — , August 11, 2011