Thursday, February 1, 2018

Is Gene Therapy the New Treatment for Pancreatic Cancer?



In August of 2017, Dr. Stephan Grupp, who is the director of cancer immunotherapy, at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, announced a new treatment under research for leukemia. This treatment is called Kymriah, and its goal is to give patients who have undergone a relapse of leukemia, specifically B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a second chance at survival. Instead of undergoing additional radiation, chemotheraphy, or other forms of treatment, Kymriah focuses on gene therapy. This form of treatment modifies a patient’s own immune cells; the cells get sent to a lab and are genetically modified using chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy. CAR-T’s aim is to give a patient’s cells the ability to detect and kill cancer cells. This is incredibly interesting, because a patient's own genes are modified and have the capability to save their own lives. Of those involved in the clinical trial, those among children and teenagers had a very successful reaction to the form of treatment. Almost 90% of patients undergoing the use of Kymriah survived the following six months, and nearly 80% of those patients survived the following year. This set of treatment is currently seeking approval for July of 2018, and may revolutionize the treatment of blood cancer.

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