May 12, 2014

FASTER, PLEASE: Patient’s Cells Deployed to Attack Aggressive Cancer. “An article published Thursday in the journal Science describes the treatment of a 43-year-old woman with an advanced and deadly type of cancer that had spread from her bile duct to her liver and lungs, despite chemotherapy. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute sequenced the genome of her cancer and identified cells from her immune system that attacked a specific mutation in the malignant cells. Then they grew those immune cells in the laboratory and infused billions of them back into her bloodstream. The tumors began ‘melting away,’ said Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, the senior author of the article and chief of the surgery branch at the cancer institute.”

Immunotherapy has been a long-tried approach to cancer treatment — I remember they were trying it at Oak Ridge when I was in high school — but promising results often fail to pan out in larger trials. I hope this one does better.