Gene therapy that turns blood into cancer-killing cells shows promise

Gene therapy which turns blood into cancer killing cells shows promise

A new gene therapy has shown promise (Stock image)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A gene therapy which turns patients' blood into cancer killing cells has shown promise in a major study.

Six months after a single treatment, more than one-third of lymphoma patients in the study showed no sign of disease, Business Insider UK reported.

Also, 82% of patients had their cancer shrink by at least half at some point in the study.

The treatment is called CAR-T cell therapy and could become America's first approved gene therapy.

It involves filtering a patient's blood to remove key immune system soldiers called T-cells. They are then altered in a lab to contain a gene that targets cancer.

Patients are then given them back intravenously. Doctors have called it a "living drug," because it permanently alters cells that multiply in the body to fight the disease.

The study suggests that a one-time treatment of this therapy could give lasting benefits to those who respond well.

However, cancer medicines chief at the Yale Cancer Center doctor Roy Herbst has said there is a concern about how long the benefits would last and the potential side effects. Indeed the treatment caused the deaths of two people in the study.

The treatment was developed at the National Cancer Institute and has been licensed to Kite Pharma.

The company plans to seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration by the end of March and in Europe later this year.