News / Health

Researchers Develop Promising Treatment for Leukemia

This microscopy image provided by Dr. Carl June shows immune system T-cells (C) binding to beads that cause the cells to divide, then are later removed to leave pure T-cells, which are then ready for infusion to leukemia patients, August 2011.This microscopy image provided by Dr. Carl June shows immune system T-cells (C) binding to beads that cause the cells to divide, then are later removed to leave pure T-cells, which are then ready for infusion to leukemia patients, August 2011.
x
This microscopy image provided by Dr. Carl June shows immune system T-cells (C) binding to beads that cause the cells to divide, then are later removed to leave pure T-cells, which are then ready for infusion to leukemia patients, August 2011.
This microscopy image provided by Dr. Carl June shows immune system T-cells (C) binding to beads that cause the cells to divide, then are later removed to leave pure T-cells, which are then ready for infusion to leukemia patients, August 2011.
Jessica Berman
An experimental leukemia therapy appears to have successfully eliminated the lethal blood cancer in some patients. The treatment, which involves a disabled form of the virus that causes AIDS, revs-up immune system cells that then specifically target the malignant cells.

A dozen patients have now undergone the experimental therapy, developed at the University of Pennsylvania. The treatment involves removing millions of T-cells, a type of white blood cell, from each patient and inserting genes that have been programmed to kill B-cells, another type of cell that becomes malignant in leukemia.

The researchers used a non-infectious form of the AIDS virus to transport genetic material into the T-cells, which were then infused back into the cancer patient following chemotherapy. The genetically modified cells attack a protein on the surface of B-cells, killing them, and prompting the production of more modified T-cells.
 
So far, the experimental treatment has been used successfully on a child with an aggressive form of leukemia and on three adults, all of whom show no signs of disease two years after receiving the therapy.  

John Wagner, director of pediatric and bone marrow transplantation at the University of Minnesota, is among those widely praising the new therapy to treat the lethal cancer.

“Basically what this is now is it’s a whole new strategy above and beyond chemotherapy or radiation that uses a whole difficult mechanism to eradicate leukemia that’s particularly resistant,” said Wagner.

Although the treatment was very effective in eliminating disease in four patients, it was only partially effective in two others, who relapsed after therapy. Two patients did not respond at all.   

While the new, modified T-cell therapy is an exciting development, Wagner said it only targets a narrow aspect of the blood cancer. The conventional treatment approach is a bone-marrow transplant, which is designed to create a healthy new immune system.

“Bone marrow transplant sort of tackles it all. It’s like throwing the kitchen sink at everything, whereas this is very specific. Clearly, this is very effective in some patients," he said. "But I’m going to be using it in combination to see whether or not I can actually improve the outcome after transplant, above and beyond what we currently see today.”

Details of the experimental leukemia therapy were presented this week at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Atlanta. The findings were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More