Keep up with the news by installing RT’s extension for . Never miss a story with this clean and simple app that delivers the latest headlines to you.

 

‘Living drug’ beats leukemia in nearly 9 out of 10 cases

Published time: February 20, 2014 14:59
Reuters/Eric Gaillard

Reuters/Eric Gaillard

A new technique of treating leukemia using a patient’s own immune system which is being called a ‘living drug’ has worked in 88 percent of adults a team of researchers in the US has found.

Scientists in New York published a report in Science Magazine in December 2013, hailing the treatment as a breakthrough in the field of cancer immunotherapy, AFP reports.

The latest trial, which was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, involved 16 people with adult B acute Lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

In the trials 14 of the 16 patients achieved complete remission after their T cells - which play a crucial role in the body’s immune system – were genetically engineered so they could focus on beating back the cancer.

The longest remission among the 14 patients is so far about two years according to the lead author of the report, Renier Brentjens, director of cellular therapeutics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

The process involves removing some of a patient’s T-cells and altering them with a gene to make them recognize a protein on the cancer cells called CD19, so that they can attack them but not other cells. Without this genetic alteration T-cells will attack other harmful invaders in the body, but will allow cancer cells to grow.

“Basically, what we do is re-educate the T-cell in the laboratory with gene therapy to recognize and now kill tumor cells, it seems to really work in patients with this particular type of cancer,” said Brentjens.

The treatment, known as tumor-targeted chimeric antigen receptor-modified T-cells, has been in development for 15 years. Without it only 30 percent of relapsed patients would be expected to respond to salvage therapy.

All the patients in the trial – whose average age was 50 – were on the brink of death when they started it and had already relapsed, or discovered that traditional chemotherapy techniques were no longer working.

1,400 people die of ALL leukemia every year in the US, and while it is among the most treatable cancers, patients often become resistant to chemotherapy and then relapse.

Overall in the US, Brentjens estimates that between 60 and 80 people have started the experimental trials, which are also being carried out in Europe.

In December last year, experts from hospitals across the US, which are carrying out the trials, presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

The University of Pennsylvania is also studying the technique in adults with another type of cancer known as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), while the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is enrolling pediatric patients in T-cell therapy trials.

The other US hospitals carrying out the trials have shown similar remission rates.

“This is a real phenomenon, demonstrating that this isn’t a fluke. This could be a paradigm shift in the way we approach cancer therapy,” said Brentjens.

Kanti Rai, chief of the CLL Research and Treatment Program at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York, who was not involved in the research, hailed the study as “a major service to all of us.”

“In the present report, we are told that equally dramatic and excellent results were obtained when a more frightening and fatal disease, such as adult ALL was the enemy,” he said.

Researchers are still trying to find out why the treatment doesn’t work in all patients, and to identify cancer-specific receptor cells so the technique can be used to fight other kinds of tumors.

But the therapy is expensive at $100,000 per patient, although experts believe the price will come down when pharmaceutical companies get involved and the treatment becomes more widespread.

Comments (12)

 

Aaron Blakey 21.02.2014 15:55

The only reason cannibis (CBD) is not getting used is becase big Pharma companys cant place a patent on nature !!! There would be no money in using a plant tey cant patent because they didnt make it !!!. In order for cannibis to be effective against it has to be refined and turned into a oil of which is then consumed !! Clinical trials have confirmed quite a high sucess rate !! Please read and educate yourself !!!

 

DavidRiv2012 21.02.2014 10:45

Inovio Pharmaceuticals has a universal approach of activating the bodies own T-cells, that is, an universal immuo-vaccine delivered in vivio using electroporation. The vaccine is derived from a patented process to obtain the best parts of the antigen's gene sequence. A composite sequence is then added to a plasmid which becomes the vaccine to treat or prevent diseases. I wish the authors of this article will follow-up on Inovio's elegant and cost effective universal approach.

Inovio has roots to U Penn and David B. Weiner, PhD., a chief founder of synthetic DNA.


 

Agiofin 21.02.2014 10:36

Mælstrom Devnal Valentine 21.02.2014 01:17

If marijuana cures cancer than how come Bob Marley died slow and painful death from cancer that spread from his toe into his lung and other organs, tell me more how marijuana CURES cancer, it sure can slow down its spread but thats about it

  


Oh please, he smoked the stuff and that is not how you use it to cure yourself, for treatment against cancer you need the THC inside the plant smoking (burning the plants leaves and chemicals) does nothing to cure you.

Educat e yourself before you comment on things you don't fully understand, google THC

View all comments (12)
Add comment

Authorization required for adding comments

Register or

Name

Password

Show password

Register

or Register

Request a new password

Send

or Register

To complete a registration check
your Email:

OK

or Register

A password has been sent to your email address

Edit profile

X

Name

New password

Retype new password

Current password

Save

Cancel

Follow us