This is a fascinating use of genetic therapy
The announcement came at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC this week. Researchers figured out a way to edit T cells, some of the body’s natural defenders against cancerous cells and other pathogens, to target specific tumors.
Fred Hutchinson and his team at the Cancer Research Center in Washington state explain that by extracting T cells from the patient and genetically modifying them to seek out a molecule called CD19, they are reintroduced and seek out tumor causing B cells, where the CD19 is often present, and destroy the tumors. In the past, these types of cancer, such as lymphoma and leukemia, have been difficult to treat, but when this process was trialed in one study a whopping 94% of the patients went into remission.
Other studies did not have quite the success rate, but ls with lymphoma, greater than 50 percent had their cancer symptoms disappear. Not quite the 94% success rate from the previous study, but the researchers point out that other treatments had failed for these patients and many of them had been given months to live.
More research needs to be done. Specifically, some patients experienced neurological problems and decreases in blood pressure and two people even died.
Still when dealing with illness of this level, these numbers are staggeringly awesome. We are very excited for the future of this therapy.