In an innovative treatment, the immune system of cancer patients is genetically reprogrammed to fight their final cancer for them, with promising results.
In the UK, a number of patients from the National Health Service (NHS) with lymphoma at King's College Hospital have been given CAR-T, a "live drug" which is unique to every patient, as it contains some of their own cells.
"This is a very exciting new development and gives new hope to many of our patients" Victoria Potter, a hematologist at King's College Hospital, told BBC. "It is amazing to be able to see those people whom you may have given no hope to actually get remission." Part of the patient's immune system, the white blood cells, are taken and frozen in nitrogen before being sent to laboratories in the US where they are genetically reprogrammed to find and destroy cancer instead of killing viruses and bacteria, as usual. The cells are then transformed into chimeric antigen or CAR-T receptor T cells and returned back to the patient's bloodstream where they grow and fight cancer.
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The breakthrough of blood donation sees scientists even though long-term treatment statistics are not yet available, in clinical trials, 40% of patients with terminal lymphoma had all signs of the disease eliminated by their body within 15 months.
Treatment is costly and has potential side effects. Patients receiving treatment may experience a number of unpleasant side effects of high fever; vomiting; and diarrhea to confusion; aphasia (difficulty understanding or speaking); and loss of consciousness "said Dr. Ruben Benjamin, a consultant hematologist at Kings.
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