Woman’s late-stage breast cancer cured by immunotherapy treatment that supercharged her own cells to fight the disease in a world first
- Immunotherapy enhances a patient’s own T cells to make them fight cancer better
- Doctors at the National Institutes of Health have cured a woman of her breast cancer using the experimental new treatment
A woman has been cured of her breast cancer by a revolutionary treatment that used supercharged versions of her own immunity cells to eliminate the disease.
About one in eight women in the US will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives.
Traditional treatments including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation put many into remission.
But, for the first time, a woman’s late stage breast cancer has entirely disappeared after she was treated with a National Institutes of Health-developed personalized immonotherapy, offering hope to even the toughest breast cancer cases.
Immunotherapy administered in a National Institutes of Health trial has cured a woman of her late-stage breast cancer in a world-first
These days, the survival rate for breast cancer patients in the industrialized world is quite remarkable: If the disease is diagnosed while it is still limited to the breast, there is a 99 percent survival rate over the next five years.
This number drops in later stages of cancer, with just a 27 percent five-year survival rate for those whose breast cancer has spread far away parts of their bodies.
Traditionally, breast cancer patients may be inundated with chemotherapy or radiation and have surgery to remove their tumors.
Still, more than 40,000 American women are expected to lose their battles with the disease this year alone, highlighting the need for improved treatments, especially those with the latest stage cancers.
Now, a team at the National Institutes of Health have proven that, at least for one such patient, a better, more personalized treatment is out there.
Led by Dr Steven Rosenberg, researchers there modified the patient’s own immune system so that it would fight her late-stage cancer.
The technique they used is called T cell immunotherapy.
The human immune system produces T cells to fight off invaders, or pathogens, that can cause infection and disease.
Immunotherapy takes a sample of the patients own T cells, genetically modifies them to be cancer hunting and killing machines, and deploys them back into the patient’s body.
This offers two advantages: patients tolerate their own immunity cells well, meaning the treatment may come with fewer, less severe side effects than more broadly toxic methods, like chemo.
T cells supped up for immunotherapy also detect and attack tumors more accurately, reducing the likelihoood that there will be any traces of the disease left after a course of treatment.
Breast cancer has posed some unique challenges to the use of immunotherapy, but, surprisingly, these kinds of treatments have worked best against triple negative breast cancer, one of the worst forms of the disease.
The patient involved in the new study had received a number of different forms of treatment for her late-stage breast cancer.
Nothing had been able to clear her of all of her metastatic tumors, which had scattered throughout the woman’s body.
But after Dr Rosenberg and his colleagues reactivated her immunity T-cells and returned them to her body, her enhanced immune system went right to work against the cancer.
Two years after the treatment, the woman is still, incredibly cancer free.
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