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Leukemia T-cell gene therapy shows progress, but not as effective as hoped

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. 

Four years ago, University of Pennsylvania researchers published early but electrifying results. An experimental T-cell therapy eradicated end-stage leukemia in two patients, and put a third in remission.

Soon after that, pharmaceutical giant Novartis partnered with Penn, aiming to commercialize the breakthrough.

Since then, a more modest picture of success has emerged in treating the blood cancer, a type called chronic lymphocytic leukemia that usually strikes in middle age or later.

Of the first 14 CLL patients given the T-cell therapy, four had their cancers disappear – including the first two, who are now about five years cancer-free. Four others got better but then their cancer progressed. And six had no response to the T-cell therapy.

In comparison, Penn’s T-cell therapy has been spectacularly effective in more than 50 children and adults with a fast-progressing type of blood cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Long-lasting, complete remissions have occurred in more than 60 percent of patients.

The method is complex and costly, and often triggers life-threatening complications. It involves genetically engineering each patient’s disease-fighting T cells to recognize and attack their cancer cells.

When it works, the therapy also offers the hope of a rarity in terminal-stage cancer: a onetime curative treatment. Stem-cell transplantation, a risky, last-resort treatment that can sometimes be curative, is not a suitable option for most patients with CLL.

Read full, original post: T-cell therapy results more modest than hoped for chronic leukemia

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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