Scientists see ‘extraordinary’ success with cancer treatment

Researchers say they've found success with a new cancer treatment.

Researchers say they’ve found success with a new cancer treatment.

Scientists seeking a cure for cancer say they’ve found early trials of one treatment that sends in modified white blood cells to fight off certain types of the disease have produced “extraordinary” success, with 94 percent of participants in one study seeing a complete disappearance of their symptoms

In that study, fully 94 percent of acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients treated with the modified cells, called T-cells, said their symptoms vanished. In a separate study, 80 percent of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients saw positive results from the same treatment – while half reported their symptoms completely disappeared, Fox News reported.

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“This is extraordinary,” said lead researcher Standley Riddell with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, in the Fox report. “This is unprecedented in medicine to be honest, to get response rates in this range in these very advanced patients.”

The treatment takes out T-cells from the patients’ bodies, sticks them with molecules that are known to target cancer, and infuses them back into their bodies. The molecules, which are chimeric antigen receptors, or CARS, then go to work and limit the ability of cancer cells to ward off the body’s natural immune system.

It’s almost like reprogramming the immune system, medical officials said.

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But it’s a last-ditch effort; researchers say the procedure produces dangerous side effects and in fact, seven of the ALL patients who received the treatment had to go into intensive care after experiencing a serious reaction, cytokine release syndrome. Two of those patients then died, Fox News reported.

But medical officials are hopeful the treatment could prove a viable option for certain types of cancers.

“Much like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, it’s not going to be a save-all,” Riddell said, in Fox News. “[But] I think immunotherapy has finally made it to a pillar of cancer therapy.”