Is there a cure for cancer? You bet. This latest one enhances the body’s own immune system, and so far it gives a 2 in 17 chance of complete recovery. Scientists remove normal white blood cells, infect them with a retrovirus which delivers DNA to the cells. These genes enable the white blood cells to make T cell receptors which stick to the cancer cells. The white blood cells are reintroduced to the patient and they kill the cancer cells. One challenge is getting enough of these new cells to sick around in the patient’s body in order to kill the cancer. Difficult, but it has now worked and the methods can be improved. (See diagram).
“The NCI team managed to isolate T-cells produced by cancer patients that could recognize cancer. They extracted these special T-cells and enhanced their ability to find cancer cells through genetic manipulation.” – ctv
Mr Origer was diagnosed with melanoma ? the most aggressive form of skin cancer ? in 1999. A cyst which grew on the same area of his back in 2002 was found to have malignant cells and the cancer continued to spread until, in June 2004, it was found in his liver. He underwent various chemical and surgical treatments, but none was found to stop the spread of cancer.
In December 2004, he was given the gene therapy and was discharged the same month. By January 2005, his tumours had shrunk by half and by last September, when he attended his daughter Katie’s wedding, one small spot remained in his liver which surgeons removed.
Last week, doctors pronounced him completely clear of cancer cells.
Of the 17 patients with advanced skin cancer who underwent gene therapy, the treatment worked only on Mr Origer and “Thomas M”, aged 39, clearing the disease from liver, lymph node and lung.
But scientists believe they can improve the response and adapt it to fight other cancers, notably breast, colon and lung. The success using the patients’ genetically modified white blood cells is reported today in the journal Science by a team at the US National Cancer Institute led by Dr Steven Rosenberg, a pioneer in the field. He said: “Both patients are still free of the disease, after 18 months.”
One might look carefully at who is telling us not to believe this is a cure: “Don’t be deluded that this is the cancer breakthrough“. Don’t drug companies lose billions per year if cancer is cured with gene therapy? Don’t worry about the cure being surpressed for another 50 years. The unbiased experts at quackwatch tell us there IS no conspiracy. Whew! Glad to hear that.