A New Possible Cure for Leukemia

A New Possible Cure for Leukemia

Mackenzie Thompson

by Mackenzie Thompson

Life Saver, AMC

posted on Nov 14, 2013, at 9:51 pm


Persistent chemotherapy-resistant chronic lymphatic leukemia (CLL) is a serious form of cancer as it invades the body with terrifying speed. When we think we have conquered it with modern technologies, it shows its ugly face yet again, sometimes leading to death. Now, there is hope for a new cure to CLL. By August 2011, 2 out of 3 advanced stage CLL patients have been completely cured. There had been many inefficacious attempts at genetically modifying the T cells, enabling them to fight leukemia and to seek out and destroyed tumors. The therapy that accomplished in curing the patients was only a slight alteration of those attempts.

Current curative methods may cause CLL patients to get even sicker (possibly leading to death), or they can cure the cancer they intended to, but then cause many more different types of cancer down the road. Experimentation has been going on for more than 30 years to try to avoid the plethora of drawbacks of chemo and radiation. Researchers have been experimenting with gene and cell therapies, hoping for the body to recognise cancer cells as viral attackers and signal an immune response that would kill the cancer efficiently.

When a virus invades the body, it latches onto a specific type of healthy cell and injects its own genetic material into it, conquering it and converting it into a viral replication center. The newly converted cell then produces billions of virus copies every day, which then seek out new host cells and repeat the process. Thus the war begins.

Luckily, our bodies are equipped with something called a T cell. The primary role of T cells is to seek out invading material by inspecting the proteins in each cell and latching on to the specific kind of invader proteins. The many varieties of T cells can naturally bond with the many varieties of invaders. Then, these T cells can create thousands of self replicas that are designed to demolish infected cells. These T cells send out “memory cells” that continue to patrol the body, ready for the net invasion.
The problem with cancer is that it is not recognized as a dangerous invader, and is therefore ignored by the T cells. Researchers are teaming up in gene experiments to get around this problem. T cells are being genetically modified to gain chimeric antigen receptors that have a wider range of cells that they could bond with, hopefully bonding with cancerous cells and destroying them.

The study included 3 advanced stage CLL patients that had been through extensive chemo treatments that had little or no success. Three rounds of light injections with the modified T cells were given to the patients. Within days, the amount of tumor cells decreased significantly, an amazing result! Also, these modified T cells remained active, circulating throughout the body for about six months before they expired and leaving behind more memory T cells to watch out for more rumors in the future.

About Mackenzie

Mackenzie is a lover of world travel, photography, design, style and Chinese cooking. She is passionate about working towards a purpose, recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Media and Marketing, and is currently residing in Manhattan.

Contact Mackenzie at mackenzie.thompson@advmedcert.com

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