Science and health communities in the whole world are rejoicing after a novel treatment successfully cured blood cancers.
Using genetically engineered cells, the researchers from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) developed a new therapy system called personalized cellular therapy that cured 26 adults with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and 19 children suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
The process starts by extracting T-cells, a type of white blood cells from the patient’s own immune system. The T-cells are then genetically reprogrammed and multiplied in the laboratory and reintroduce to the patient’s body.
After its infusion, the genetically engineered T-cells will proliferate inside patient’s body and attack tumor cells through its anti-body like protein called chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) designed to bind and kill cancerous cells. This process will manifest severe flu-like symptoms, high fevers, nausea, and in some cases breathing difficulties to patients.
Results after four weeks of treatment showed that 85 percent of the paediatric patients with ALL and 40 percent of the adults with CLL have complete remissions -- a first time in history of leukaemia treatment gaining high positive response regardless of patient’s age and extent of the disease.
The study also emphasized that unlike the traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, surgical therapy and radiation therapy which have tremendous side effects to patients, personalized cellular therapy leaves no collateral damages to patient’s body. Genetically engineered T-cells specifically target cancer cells and provide continues vaccine-like activity that prevents B-cells (presumably tumour cells) from growing back.