Experimental treatments at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle have shown very promising results in causing supposedly incurable blood-borne cancers to go into remission. In a trial on 29 terminal leukemia patients who were given between two and five months to live, 27 of them went into complete remission. In a trial with 30 lymphoma patients, 19 of them responded – and are still alive three years after the trial began.
The therapy involves taking white blood cells from a patient, modifying them in a lab, and putting them back into the patient’s body. The modified cells are programmed to attack cancer cells. There has been one drawback. When too many cancer cells are killed within a short period of time, the patient’s body has what’s referred to as cytokine release syndrome – an inflammatory response that can be fatal. Two of the terminally ill patients succumbed to this during the trial.
Still, this is only the very early stage of this potentially game changing treatment – until the cytokine issues are solved, at least terminally ill people have a very solid chance at life. Once those issues are overcome, cancer could be a thing of the past – or at least more like the flu than a life-ending disease.
Articles on the trials:
Image credit: Huffington Post