A new cancer treatment is getting “extraordinary results” at engineering T-cells from patients, in order to attack blood cancer such as lymphoblastic leukemia, according to scientists at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
It appears that even patients with short life expectancies have obtained great results in the first experimental trials that have utilized T-cells in order to target cancer, said The Guardian. Researchers even mentioned a study in which 94 percent of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia had a complete disappearance of cancer symptoms.
Moreover, patients with other types of blood cancers had very good results. Researcher Stanley Riddell said at the AAAS that results like the obtained had never been seen in medicine since very advanced patients have achieved optimal response rates.
T-cell therapy consists on the removal of immune cells from patients, which are then tagged with other molecules in order to attack specific cancers, while other T-cells target flu and infections, explained The Guardian in a special report.
“There are reasons to be optimistic, there are reasons to be pessimistic. Most of the patients in our trial would be projected to have two to five months to live.” said Stanley Riddell, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Washington State.
On the other hand, researcher Chiara Bonini, described the cancer treatment as revolutionary, because T-cells can remain in the bodies of patients for their whole life. As a result, Riddell and Bonini called it “the living-drug”.
That being said, tests have been only carried out in patients with certain blood cancers. Researchers said that the next step is to work on tumors and track the results since cancer cells may sometimes go unnoticed by body’s defenses.
Unfortunately, T-cell therapy could be considered as the last option for several people, because modifying the immune system can cause harming side effects such as cytokine release syndrome, which causes fever, nausea, chills, hypotension, tachycardia, and headache.
Bonini added that another great advantage of T-cells is that they could provide long-term effects among patients as the treatment can kill cancer so quickly that people would not even know they are infected.
“Much like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, it’s not going to be a save-all. I think immunotherapy has finally made it to a pillar of cancer therapy.” Riddell said relating to T-cells treatment.
Blood cancer facts and statistics in the U.S.
According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes are cancers that affect the bone marrow, the blood cells and the lymph nodes. Just in the United States, a person is diagnosed with a blood cancer every 3 minutes.
In 2015, there were approximately 1,658,370 cancer patients diagnosed in the country, of which 9.8 percent had blood cancer. Unfortunately, 56,630 patients died as a consequence of Leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
According to the American Cancer Society, the most common types of cancer treatments in the U.S. are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Nonetheless, it is expected that T-cell therapy would convert itself into a new highly-effective alternative method for treating cancer.
Source: The Guardian