Count another huge win for the medical community in its fight against cancer. We’ve talked with Aubrey de Grey on the show before about living to be 1,000 years old and some of the most promising technologies. Looks like we’ve got another winner.
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania are reporting that they have been able to genetically engineer a type of our body‘s natural defense system’s white blood cells and train that cell to attack cancer cells in advanced cases of leukemia. This is a huge win.
The report goes on to say that the patients have been “Cancer-Free for more than a year,” and that the patients’ immune systems have remained strong, something that isn’t typical in cancer treatment.
“This is a huge accomplishment — huge,” said Dr. Lee M. Nadler, dean for clinical and translational research at Harvard Medical School, who is credited with the initial discovery of the molecule which is part of the cancer cells which is being destroyed by this treatment.
They are using a technique where a virus is modified to carry the genes of the modified white blood cell and cause various other of the host body’s cells to create the new defending T-cells. They found that by using the virus technique, the new cancer-destroying cells were able to multiple to more then 1,000 times the initial dose and survive for months. They were even able to stimulate the body’s own defenses to create their own “memory” T-cells which could be used to counter the cancer if it were to return.
There are still side effects, including the loss of a part of the body’s immune system as well as some complications caused by the break-down of the cancerous cells themselves, but overall the treatment has proven to be very potential.
- Gene Therapy Cures Adult Leukemia (webmd.com)
- HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer serial killers (geek.com)
- Genetic Treatment Offers Hope on Cancer (online.wsj.com)