A new cancer therapy developed by immunologist Bruce Levine and colleagues, of the University of Pennsylvania, has successfully put three cancer patients in remission
The therapy uses a new gene that is inserted into T cells — the first line of defense for the immune system — and directs them to attack cancerous B cells. “Essentially, we’re converting T cells that would normally recognize other types of cells to be tumor specific,” Levine explains.
Using a sample of T cells from three patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, the researchers added the new gene to each patient’s cell sample, and then infused those cells with the tumor-specific receptors back into the original patient.
They found that on average for every modified T cell infused back into the patient’s blood, around 1000 tumor cells were killed. More importantly, even after 12 months, each patient still had copies of the modified T cells in their bloodstream, which meant that the treatment was effective after just one dose.
Levine states, “You don’t have to keep giving them . . . like you do with chemotherapy drugs . . . you can administer them once and they survive and multiply, continuing to protect against cancer.”
While the current results are only based on a small sample size and need to be analyzed over a longer period of time, scientists are hopeful that this technique could lead to the successful treatment of other types of cancer.
Do you know of other cancer therapies that have proved successful and are not used in current medicine practice? Tell us below!