A group of oncologists from the Fred Hutchinson’s Cancer Research Center, believe that they have found a revolutionary method for treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which could also be applied to other types of cancer.
In the most recent clinical study, doctors have “trained” the patients’ T-lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) with the help of special molecules to enable them to recognize and attack the tumor, and then transfer them back into the patient through an infusion. Molecules that were used are in fact receptors for T-lymphocytes, which doctors like to call “chimerical antigen receptors” (CAR), which are produced from the genetically modified laboratory mice.
This amazing method has achieved impressive results where 94 percent of the people to which it was applied were left without a single symptom of lymphoblastic leukemia. The result is even more impressive when you take into account that these were the patients who were in the final stages of the disease. The study involved only those patients who were given the predictions to live for only two to five more months.
“Something like this has never been documented in medicine, frankly, to get these results in patients in whom the disease progressed so much”, said Ridel Stanley, who was the leader of the research. However, this method of treatment is not entirely harmless. From the total of 35 patients who have participated in the research, seven of them were faced with some serious side effects. A number of experts are now continuously working to further improve the methods that would highly reduce the risks of dangerous immune reactions.
“Same as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, this method will not be able to save everyone”, Ridel admitted, but he also did point out that the immunotherapy will finally become one of the best and main ways of fighting terminal cancer. The next step for fighting will be to use smaller doses of modified T-cells, in order to reduce the risk of side effects, and Ridel would also like to try the immunotherapy on the solid tumors, even though he is aware that they will pose a greater challenge.
These sensational discoveries have the potential to change the practise of medicine and dramatically improve medical care. The cancer patients are in urgent need of new treatments, and some of the new discoveries have shown tremendous results and brought hope to the millions of suffering people.