New Treatment Eradicates Leukemia from Two Infants
Cancer is definitely one of the biggest problems that modern medicine has to face. It has already claimed the lives of millions of people around the world. And despite our best efforts, there is still no reliable treatment that is guaranteed to stop or at least block the symptoms.
Fortunately for humanity, the constant advancements and breakthroughs of medical science keep pushing us towards our final goal, which is the invention of the ultimate method to defeat cancer once and for all. A brand new treatment has recently allowed us to take yet another step towards the target.
Two infants from the United Kingdom seem to have been cured of leukemia thanks to the world-first usage of a treatment method that involves genetically engineered T-cells that came from perfectly healthy people who volunteered to donate them.
Both of the patients were treated back in 2015, when they were 11 and 16 months old respectively. It was a very difficult decision for the parents of both children since chemotherapy failed to help and their only option was an experimental treatment with no guaranteed results. Luckily, the outcome of the treatment turned out successful. Two years after the trial, both of the infants remain cancer-free. But how did this become possible in the first place?
When a person is suffering from cancer, his/her T-cells are unable to kill tumors either because they are not recognized as threats or because they are growing at a very high rate, making it impossible for the body to deal with them. So far, the advancements of genetic engineering have given us the ability to “tweak” the patient’s T-cells and reprogram them in a way that they can recognize and attack cancer cells in an effort to destroy them. Unfortunately, there are cases in which there are not enough healthy T-cells left to reprogram. This is where the new treatment steps in.
Using T-cells from donors has great advantages since it can be certain that they are 100% healthy. Moreover, thanks to the new method, they can also be engineered, reprogrammed and stored. That way they can be used as soon as someone gets cancer without waiting for the genetic engineering process to be completed while the disease progresses.
Even though the results are amazing so far, they do not automatically mean that a cure has been invented. Scientists need to study and evaluate the results for a longer period of time and also try this treatment on other patients before reaching any solid conclusions.