A revolutionary cancer therapy that uses the body’s own immune cells to attack metastatic tumours that have spread is being hailed as a “paradigm shift” in treatment of the disease.
Patients with advanced blood cancers who were not expected to live beyond five months have shown complete remission after 18 months of follow-up checks with no signs of the disease returning, scientists have revealed.
In one trial of a patient’s own T-cells – a type of white blood cell – that were engineered in the laboratory to identify and attack tumour cells, more than 90 per cent of the 35 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia went into complete remission.
In two other clinical trials involving about 40 patients with either non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or chronic lymphocyte leukaemia, more than 80 per cent of patients responded to the treatment. About half of them have been in complete remission for up to 18 months, scientists said.
Detailed findings of the clinical trials are to be published later this year, but summary results were discussed at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, whose annual meeting in Washington DC ended yesterday.