LONDON — Layla Richards, a baby girl who was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was 3 months old, had her illness reversed thanks to a new experimental treatment with ‘designer immune cells‘. Doctors describe the baby’s recovery as nearly miraculous.
Doctors at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital assured Layla’s leukemia was serious and incurable. They tried different treatments on her, like chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant; however, none of them were working properly to fight her illness.
When Doctors deemed the case as hopeless and suggested that Layla should be taken to palliative care, her father Ashleigh refused to give up until they tried all the available treatments. “I didn’t want to go down that road, I’d rather that she tried something new and I took the gamble,” he said.
That’s when they opted for a treatment based on designer immune cells with the help of Celletics, a biotech company. These designer cells are created to kill cancerous cells specifically, going under the radar of any medications patients may be taking.
After receiving the treatment, Layla had to go through another bone marrow transplant to rehabilitate her immune system.
The medical staff say that it is too soon to know if the girl is completely cured, but the results of the treatment are a huge advance in the field.
For now, the girl is free of leukemia traces thanks to the experimental method that had only been tested on rats before. “This is her today standing, laughing and giggling. She was so weak before this treatment, it was horrible and I’m just thankful for this opportunity,” added Mr. Richards.
Even though this treatment hasn’t been tested in clinical trial, Layla’s recovery only is enough to interest the American Society of Hematology, which will be studying her case.
“The technology is moving very fast, the ability to target very specific regions of the genome have suddenly become much more efficient and we think that this technology will be the next phase of treatments,” explained Waseem Qasim, from the same hospital.
Doctors expect great advances and discoveries in the gene-editing field that, according Qasim, “we can only imagine at the moment.”