New Therapy Cures Terminal Breast Cancer
US researchers have announced that the life of a terminally ill breast cancer patient has been saved thanks to a ‘pioneering new therapy.’
The patient - who lives in Florida - had been given just three months to live due to spreading breast cancer, which caused tennis ball-sized tumours in their liver, as well as secondary cancers throughout their body. However, now two years later, scans have shown there is no sign of cancer.
The new therapy used consisted of pumping 90 billion cancer-killing immune cells into the body of the patient. Though the research team at the US National Cancer Institute have said the therapy is still in the stages of being experimental, it does hold the potential to transform cancer treatment.
The patient spoke to the BBC and stated that around a week after the therapy they began to feel ‘something’- the tumour in their chest shrinking. They added that it then took another week or two until it had completely gone away.
The treatment is a ‘living drug’ which is created using the patients’ own cells and has been made at one of the leading centres of cancer research. It has been labelled as “the most highly personalised treatment imaginable” and is made by extracting the white blood cells capable of attacking the cancer from the patients’ body, and then growing these in ‘huge quantities’ in the lab. Afterwards, approximately 90 billion of these are then injected back into the patient.
Despite the excellent results, researchers have said that larger trials are needed in order for them to be able to confirm the success of the treatment.
Dr Steven Rosenburg, Chief of Surgery at the National Cancer Institute, said “This is highly experimental and we’re just learning how to do this, but potentially it is applicable to any cancer. A lot of work needs to be done, but the potential exists for a paradigm shift in cancer therapy – a unique drug for every cancer patient – it is very different to any other kind of treatment.”
Commenting on the details of the research – published in the Journal, Nature Medicine – Director of Research at Breast Cancer Now, Dr Simon Vincent described it as “world class.”
He said, “We think this is a remarkable result. It’s the first opportunity to see this sort of immunotherapy in the most common sort of breast cancer, at the moment it has only been tested in one patient. There’s a huge amount of work that needs to be done, but potentially it could open up a whole new area of therapy for a large number of people.”
Gallagher, James. ‘’Remarkable’ Therapy Beats Terminal Breast Cancer.’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44338276
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