Doctors at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania tested a novel approach to gene therapy that turns a patient’s own blood cells into assassins that track down and destroy cancer cells. The Penn scientists targeted chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common type of blood cancer. The treatment made CLL completely disappear in two patients and reduced it by 70% in the third. In each of the patients as much as five pounds of cancerous tissue completely melted away in a few weeks, and a year later it is still gone. AMAZING!!!
Possible New Treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Scientists took blood from three patients with very advanced cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and genetically altered their blood in a lab. The scientists then returned the genetically altered blood cells to the patients in three infusions. As the white cells killed the cancer cells, the patients experienced the fevers and aches and pains that one would expect when the body is fighting off an infection, but beyond that the side effects have been minimal.
Doctors at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania now want to test this gene therapy technique in other leukemias, as well as pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer. And other institutions are looking at testing it with prostate cancer and brain cancer.
It is important to note that although these results are miraculous, there still have been only three patients tested. Over the past century, many attempts to harness the body’s immune system to fight cancer have shown initial success and subsequent failure. So much research still needs to be done to prove just how effective this treatment is.