Some of the most exciting breakthroughs in medicine are coming through research on immunotherapy for cancer. The recent experiences of two cancer patients illustrate why scientists are excited about these innovative treatments.
Programming the Immune System to Fight Cancer
Teenager Emma Collins and seven-year-old Kashaun Lawhown were both battling leukemia that was unresponsive to chemotherapy and radiation. They were chosen to participate in a clinical trial at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
According to Dr. Stephan Grupp, the hospital’s director of immunotherapy, the girls received treatment with CAR-T cells. The procedure involves collecting T-cells from a patient’s own white blood cells and reprogramming them to target and attack cancer cells.
These new CAR-T cells are then reintroduced into the patient’s system, where they begin to multiply and kill off cancer cells. Continued presence of CAR-T cells can also serve as protection against future recurrence.
Positive Results of Immunotherapy for Cancer
Although Kashaun had been fighting leukemia for five years, it took only a single T-cell treatment to put the cancer into remission. Emma’s results were equally astonishing. All signs of cancer were gone just four days after treatment, and she’s remained in remission for 18 months.
At this point, CAR-T therapy has been effective primarily against leukemia and lymphoma, but researchers are exploring the possibilities of use in cases of “solid” tumors such as breast and colon.
Issels®: A Leader in Immunotherapy Treatments