Fiona MacDonald – Science Alert.
Two patients in the US died last week in a leukaemia drug trial, despite being under close medical supervision. The trial has been put on hold following the news, which is devastating for the families involved, but also a blow for scientists working on T-cell therapy – heralded as one of the most promising new treatments in cancer research.
The drug, which is called JCAR015, works by taking a patient’s own T-cells – a type of white blood cell – and reprogramming them to hunt down leukaemia cells.
They then populate in the bloodstream, and destroy cells before they become tumours. Similar therapies have shown “unprecedented success“, with a trial earlier this year seeing 94 percent of patients with advanced leukaemia go into remission.
But the side effects can be intense, because scientists have to first wipe out existing T-cells using chemotherapy before the treatment.
The trial, which is being run by a start-up called Juno therapeutics, has now had three patients die in total, including the two last week and one back in May. There were 20 patients enrolled in the trial…read the full article.