Friday, August 12, 2016

Total remissions stem from patients' T-cells

'Serial killers' on the loose — how cell therapy is now being used to attack blood cancer

An evolving technique called cell therapy can make cancer disappear.

Total remissions already have occurred in "some patients who were out of treatment options," according to a recent story by Andrew Pollack in The New York Times that I just found on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser website.

How does the technique work?

Pollack's piece reports that a "patient's T-cells, the solders of the immune system, are extracted from the patient's blood, then genetically engineered to recognize and destroy cancer." 

And then "the redesigned cells are multiplied in the laboratory, and millions or billions of them are put back into the patient's bloodstream, set loose like a vast army of tumor assassins."

Dr. Carl H. June
Dr. Carl H. June of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the top three researchers studying cell therapy, calls the cells "serial killers." 

He also is quoted as saying the individualized technique "works better than nature made it."

One killer cell apparently can destroy up to 100,000 cancer cells.

Only hundreds — not thousands — of patients have been treated with cell therapy so far, however, mainly because "it works only for certain types of blood cancers, not common malignancies like breast and lung cancer," Pollack writes.

Another problem is potentially lethal brain-swelling as a side effect.

Details about immunology and other experimental techniques can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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