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Can gene therapy reduce terminal cancers to minor chronic diseases that are ‘no different than high blood pressure’?

| | January 11, 2018

On Oct. 15 at 8 a.m., Andy Lindsay stood atop 21,247-foot Mera Peak in Nepal, a wildly improbable place for him to be both athletically and medically.

Andy, a veteran climber and a friend of mine, had been living with Stage IV lung cancer for three years. “To live one year was statistically unlikely, and two years looked like a miracle,” he said.

He was able to make the climb thanks to the success of a cutting-edge gene therapy clinical trial. It targeted his specific lung cancer mutation, shutting off the fuel to his tumor’s growth and shrinking the tumor. He wasn’t cured, but his scans were strikingly improved and he was almost symptom-free.

The trip illustrates a shifting landscape both for oncologists and cancer patients exploring a return to active lifestyles. Dr. Tomas Neilan, the director of the cardio-oncology program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and part of Andy’s medical team, said the recent success of these gene therapy treatments alters the way specialists like him view and treat advanced cancer patients.

“They’re taking Stage IV cancer and turning it into a chronic disease no different than high blood pressure,” he said.

Last month he was among several Stage IV cancer patients invited to a small gathering in Boston of top Massachusetts General researchers who outlined their thinking on future therapies.

Read full, original post: When the Lung Cancer Patient Climbs Mountains

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