US scientists have announced an “unprecedented” response to a cancer drug tested on terminally ill patients.
The news, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Washington DC, said there had been a trial on a therapy that retrains the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Reportedly more than 90% of terminally ill patients went into remission.
According to the BBC White blood cells were taken from patients with leukaemia, modified in the lab and then put back. Essentially, it is understood to reprogram the T-cell to seek out and destroy cancer cells.
Lead scientist Prof Stanley Riddell, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, said all other treatments had failed in the patients and they had only between two and five months to live.
There is, however, reason for caution as the data has not been published or peer-reviewed and two patients died from an extreme immune response.
Experts, however, said the trial was exciting, but still only “a baby step.”
Riddell told the conference “the early data is unprecedented.”