The Doctors: Experimental Treatment For Leukemia
Cancer is a devastating diagnosis for anyone, but it’s especially painful for children and their families. Six-year-old Emma Whitehead was diagnosed with leukemia, went into remission and later relapsed. As Emma’s father explained, the chances became slim that his daughter would ever recover.
However, Emma was one of the first children to receive an experimental new treatment that had been tested in adults also suffering from leukemia. Within weeks, Emma’s cancer was wiped out, and other patients have had similar results. While doctors won’t know exactly why until more testing and research is done, they’re hopeful that this new treatment could lead to a cure.
The Drs: How T-Cell Therapy Treatment Works
Emma’s oncologist, Dr. Stephan Grupp from Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania called in to The Doctors via Polycom and explained how this new T-cell therapy treatment works. T-cells have the ability to kill cancer cells, they just don’t know how to find them. That’s where this incredible new advancement comes in.
This treatment takes T-cells out of a patient’s body, genetically alters them and then adds a gene that teaches the T-cells to kill cancer. The new cells are then injected back into the patient’s blood, and within just three weeks doctors can begin to see responses. Dr. Grupp revealed that to complete this treatment, doctors are using a crippled form of the HIV virus. It can’t give someone HIV, but it can be used to add the new gene into cells.
Dr. Travis Stork believes that this new treatment is “brilliant.” It has already made a major difference in Emma’s health. After her cancer returned, Emma’s body was no longer responding to chemotherapy. After the T-cell treatment, Emma has been cancer free for six months.