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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid