GIRL IS CANCER-FREE THANKS TO A NEW IMMUNOTHERAPY FOR CHILDHOOD ACUTE LYMPHOBLASTIC LEUKEMIA: EMILY’S STORY
9-year-old Emily Whitehead is the first girl to be cured, as of 2012, of a highly aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) via a novel form of immunotherapy against leukemia. Emily did not respond successfully to chemotherapy before she entered a new trial led by Stephan A. Grupp, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric oncologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Grupp’s team bio-engineered T-cells to work not against pathogens, viruses, or bacteria but to recognize and kill the leukemic cells that normally evade regular
What is a T-cell?
T-cells are a type of white blood cells that circulate around our bodies, scanning for cellular abnormalities and infections.
Researchers first extracted the patient’s own T-cells and added a receptor to the cells that recognize antigens, an antenna that specifically mark these cancer cells. Once the T-cell receptor binds to the cancer cell antigen, the T-cell is able to kill the cancer cell as effectively as our immune system kills other viruses and bacteria. This is a powerful method that uses the patient’s own immune system against cancer.
This past July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration designated this so called “CTL019 approach” as a Breakthrough Therapy, helping to expedite its progress into broader clinical trials. . While in its very early days, the future looks promising for such therapies.
The source of the news can be found here.