Genetically engineered T-cell therapy has startling effectiveness against leukemia

Genetically engineered T-cell therapy is showing startling effectiveness against leukemia, judging from both scientific and parental accounts: Of the first seven children, five had a complete response – no evidence of cancer – although one of them later relapsed. One child did not respond, and one child’s outcome has not been made public by parents or doctors.

This is a follow up of prior Nextbigfuture coverage

The therapy involves transferring genes into T cells – the soldiers of the immune system – to make them recognize and attack B cells, the blood component that turns malignant in certain leukemias and lymphomas. There is also evidence that some of the designer T cells develop immune “memory,” so they could reactivate and strike if cancer returns.

Today, with potent chemotherapies and radiation, about 80 percent of the 3,000 children diagnosed annually in the United States are cured. But the treatments are harsh, and when they fail, the options are increasingly grim.

New England Journal of Medicine – Chimeric Antigen Receptor–Modified T Cells for Acute Lymphoid Leukemia

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