‘This is unprecedented’ says researcher after more than half of terminally ill blood cancer patients experienced complete remission in early clinical trials
Scientists are claiming “extraordinary” success with engineering immune cells to target a specific type of blood cancer in their first clinical trials.
Among several dozen patients who would typically have only had months to live, early experimental trials that used the immune system’s T-cells to target cancers had “extraordinary results”.
In one study, 94% of participants with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) saw symptoms vanish completely. Patients with other blood cancers had response rates greater than 80%, and more than half experienced complete remission.
Speaking at the annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement for Science (AAAS), researcher Stanley Riddell said: “This is unprecedented in medicine, to be honest, to get response rates in this range in these very advanced patients.”
To administer the T-cell therapy, doctors remove immune cells from patients, tagging them with “receptor” molecules that target a specific cancer, as other T-cells target the flu or infections. They then infuse the cells back in the body.
“There are reasons to be optimistic, there are reasons to be pessimistic,” said Riddell, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Washington state. He added that the researchers believe that lowering the dose of T-cells can reduce the risk of side-effects.
“These are in patients that have failed everything. Most of the patients in our trial would be projected to have two to five months to live.”… read the full story.