"This is absolutely one of the more exciting advances I've seen in cancer therapy in the last 20 years," said Dr. David Porter, a hematologist and oncologist at Penn. "We've entered into a whole new realm of medicine."
It's been six months since Nick, now 15, received the personalized cell therapy, and doctors still can find no trace of leukemia in his system.
Doctors are cautiously optimistic. The studies have only been going on since 2010, but so far relapse rates have been relatively low: of the 18 other pediatric patients who went into complete remission, only five have relapsed and of the 12 adults who went into complete remission, only one relapsed. Some of the adult patients have been cancer-free and without a relapse for more than three years and counting.
Relapses after this personalized cell therapy may be more promising than relapses after chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant, Porter explained.
First, doctors have been delighted to find the reengineered T-cells -- the ones that know how to hunt down and attack cancer -- are still alive in the patients' bodies after more than three years.
This shows great promise and the unyielding drive of the medical community to keep fighting and progressing against the war on cancer.
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