New cancer treatment trials are shedding light on the ultimate solution for leukemia patients. Leukemia is a type of cancer found in blood cells which originates in the bone marrow that is inside every bone. When mainstream cancer treatments and institutions failed leukemia patents, a group of scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania decided to take those patients in as a last resort. Using an altered form of the HIV virus, patients were given modified T-cells that directly annihilate cancer cells.
Here is a summary of how this particular cancer treatment works:
Patients’ cells are removed and then undergo the modification process. The T-cells found in the blood sample are reprogrammed to target tumor cells. This reprogramming works through gene modification using an altered form of the HIV virus. It is not deadly, and the only part used is the part that encodes a new protein, called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), into the T-cells’ surface. This protein then binds to another protein called CD19.
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CD19 is a protein that is expressed in all tumor cells, as well as B cells, which are part of the immune system. The patients get a dose of B cells from the docs, so no worry there. The rest of the cells in the body do not have this CD19 protein shown on the surface, so they are ignored. The newly engineered T-cells are infused back into the patient, and start to kill off the tumors. Not to mention, the T-cells also multiply and stay present in the system.
Nine of twelve leukemia patients who received infusions of their own T cells after the cells had been genetically engineered to attack the patients’ tumors responded to the therapy. - http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2012/12/tcell/
This seems really promising. On an even more promising note, there are more scientists tinkering with similar methods to specifically have T-cells target the CD19 protein found on tumor cells. Let us pray that one day this cancer treatment works not only on leukemia, but also on lymphoma, pancreatic cancer, and all other forms of cancer as well.
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