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'Extraordinary' cancer trial sees symptoms vanish in 94% of patients

The new treatment uses the immune system to eliminate cancer cells.

Image: Shutterstock/science photo

A POTENTIAL NEW treatment for cancer has been hailed for its “extraordinary results”.

Scientists in the US carried out a number of studies on patients with advanced leukemia.

The Guardian reports that in one study of 35 people, 94% of participants, with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) saw symptoms vanish completely. Patients with other blood cancers had response rates greater than 80%, and more than half experienced complete remission.

Speaking at the annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement for Science (AAAS), Professor Stanley Riddell of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Washington state said: “This is unprecedented in medicine, to be honest, to get response rates in this range in these very advanced patients.”

Riddell explained to Sky News that the technique involved removing immune cells called T-cells from patients, tagging them with “receptor” molecules that target cancer, and putting them back into the body in an infusion.

sky Source: Sky News

He noted that several groups of researchers have been working on the technique for some time.

The revolution here really is demonstrating that we can take T-cells from a patient and essentially reprogramme those cells to recognise cancers. The power of this is that … unlike a chemotherapy drug that sort of just destroys cancer cells that are growing, you actually now put in a living therapy that really can combat the cancer.

Riddell noted that the T-cells will grow in the patient “until the tumour is eliminated”.

He said repeat treatment is not required as the technique just requires one infusion to get rid of several kilograms of tumour.

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Órla Ryan

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