This new cancer treatment "exceeds our wildest expectations," claim the researchers who created this leukemia treatment. It is being called "one of the most significant advances in cancer research in years."
This new treatment consists of an injection and while it's only been tried on three people, the results are astounding. Two of the patients, who had the most common type of leukemia, saw their cancer completely disappear with the third patient having the same type of cancer seeing it reduced by 70 percent, according to MSNBC.
Doctors saw as much as five pounds of cancerous tissue completely melt away in just a few weeks and it is still gone a year later. This preliminary test has the medical world's attention as the results "exceeded our wildest expectations" says immunologist Dr. Carl June, a member of the Abramson Cancer Center's research team.
Chroniclymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common type of leukemia that strikes 15,000 each year in the U.S. killing 4,300. Chemotherapy and radiation holds the disease at bay for years, but the only cure up until now has been a bone marrow transplant which works only half the time.
How does this work? CBS News puts it in layman's terms when they say "According to experts, the treatment is a gene therapy that turns a patient's own blood cells into assassins that tracks down and destroys cancer cells." This is the best way to describe it without going into the scientific jargon.
This new treatment is given in an injection and works almost immediately with significant progress seen in two weeks’ time. With these new results it is likely the government and drug companies will be more than willing to fund the more research needed to bring this to the masses. Researchers want to find a way to treat all kinds of cancer with this method.
Certain types of white blood cells that the body uses to fight disease were removed from the patients body. Using a modified, harmless version of HIV, they inserted a series of genes into the white blood cells. These target and kill the cancer cells. The doctors injected them back into the patients after growing a large batch of the genetically engineered white blood cells.
The first experiments of this kind showed this worked but after killing off a small amount of the cancer, the white blood cells seem to die out. Researchers then added another gene that makes the white blood cells multiply by "a thousand fold" once inside the body and this worked. The genes became "serial killers" of cancer cells.
There's no prediction given when this new method could be ready to market, but it sounds like the most promising treatment ever in the fight against cancer.
Reference: MSNBC, CBS News