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Scientists conduct successful trials of immunotherapy to target cancer


Scientists have conducted early successful trials of a cancer treatment in which white blood cells are modified to target certain types of the disease, Fox News reports.

In one of the two studies, the patients suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) were treated with modified blood cells, known as T-cells. Out of the total number of patients, 94 percent of participants suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) said their symptoms vanished completely after the treatment.

"This is extraordinary," said lead researcher Professor Stanley Riddell from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. "This is unprecedented in medicine to be honest, to get response rates in this range in these very advanced patients."

In the other study, 80 percent of patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma responded to the treatment with positive results, while more than half the patients ended up symptom-free. 

"There are reasons to be optimistic, there are reasons to be pessimistic," said Riddell, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Washington state. He added that the researchers believe that lowering the dose of T-cells can reduce the risk of side-effects, The Guardian reports.

"These are in patients that have failed everything. Most of the patients in our trial would be projected to have two to five months to live."

The treatment involved removing the T-cells from patients, tagging them with "receptor" molecules that target cancer, and infusing them back into the body.

Much like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, it's not going to be a save-all," Riddell said, adding,

"I think immunotherapy has finally made it to a pillar of cancer therapy.

Riddell said that he hoped to try the therapy on patients suffering from cancers with solid tumors.

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