“Revolutionary” Cancer Therapy Yields Extraordinary Results In Human Trials
photo credit: The new treatment involves engineering a patient’s own cells. jovan vitanovski/Shutterstock
Breakthroughs in cancer treatment are often prematurely celebrated, but optimism fromrecent trials on a relatively new type of therapy may be justified.
Hailed as a “revolution,” scientists have reported “unprecedented” success with a type of personalized treatment called immunotherapy, in which a patient’s own cells are turned into tumor-killing agents. In one trial, where chemotherapy had previously failed, a staggering 94 percent went into remission, the Guardian reports. A paper on the results is pending review.
Announced at the 2016 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC this week, the treatment focuses on components of the immune system called T cells. While these naturally spend their days scouting the body for threats, killing any invaders or cancerous cells they come across, their activity diminishes with some chronic diseases and often they’re not potent or persistent enough to be able to cope with rapidly dividing cancer cells on their own.
But with advances in genetic engineering, scientists realized they could potentially harness and exploit these cells, boosting their innate detective skills so that they specifically target tumors. In this case, researchers headed by Stanley Riddell of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center engineered T cells to make a receptor that recognizes a molecule calledCD19. As this is almost exclusively found on another type of white blood cell called a B cell, this confers the ability to recognize and potently destroy tumors originating from these cells, such as certain lymphomas and leukemias.
full story at IFLScience