Toddlers with leukemia treated with immune therapy

Toddlers with leukemia treated with immune therapy

Two young toddlers with leukemia have been successfully treated with a new immune therapy. Scientists were able to modify a donor's immune cells in a laboratory so that they could fight cancer cells in the patients.

The two children are still free from the disease 18 and 12 months after treatment, scientists write in the scientific journal Science Translational Medicine.

The new method was developed by the French Cellectis at the British Hospital Great Ormond Street Hospital. Scientists speak of a breakthrough in immunotherapy, although it is not yet clear whether long term treatment also works.

In the treatment, so-called T-cells from a healthy donor are taken. Those cells are adapted to recognize and attack cancer cells, after which they are introduced to the patient.

According to professor of hematology Henk Lokhorst (VUmc), immune therapy has given promising results in recent years, he says to the Volkskrant

However, there are still obstacles, such as the need for a personal medicine for every cancer patient.

Therefore, scientists are looking for ways to get ready-to-use T cells that can be transformed as desired. "A kind of biobank that will help you get started quickly," says Lokhorst.

Existing treatments often makes use of healthy cells taken from the patient. People with few healthy T-cells, such as sick young children, can not use it.

The new technique makes it possible to help those people too. It would also be cheaper and the cells may also be used for other treatments.

A first phase of clinical research is being done in both children and adults.

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