Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11, 2011 - A “Really Huge” Cancer Research Breakthrough

Anyone with a personal interest in cancer treatment will want to read this Los Angeles Times article, about a very significant research breakthrough by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania.

It seems they’ve found a way to modify a patient’s own T-cells, so that, when injected back into the patient’s bloodstream, they destroy a variety of different types of cancer cells. Each re-engineered T-cell packs a wallop: it can kill over 1,000 cancer cells. In the patients who were treated with this experimental regimen, the T-cells had a life of over 3 months, and the cancer has not recurred a year later.

This is as close as scientists can reasonably expect to get to a “natural” cancer treatment. It’s a way to, essentially, educate a patient’s own immune system to do what it should have been doing with those cancer cells in the first place.

“This is a huge accomplishment - huge,” says the Dean of Harvard Medical School. Considering that Harvard is essentially a competitor of Penn in seeking this sort of research breakthrough, this is high praise.

This is the sort of news that gives hope to those of us living with cancer. This is just early research, of course, and “not ready for prime time” as an off-the-shelf treatment option, but it holds great promise for the future.

Way to go, University of Pennsylvania researchers!

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