Cancer is a nasty disease that affects millions of people throughout the world. With as many as one on every two people being diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lives, it’s imperative that effective treatments are found to try and help those in need. While researchers and scientists work around the clock trying to put an end to the disease, sadly, there is still no cure. However, one new trial involving gene therapy treatment may bring a new wave hope to cancer patients and has already proved to be successful.
This new form of treatment works by removing cancer-fighting cells from the tumor, multiplying them by billions in the lab, and then popping them back into the patient’s body ready to attack the disease. One patient who has benefited greatly from this treatment is 51-year old Celine Ryan. She has diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer over three years ago, and despite radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, cancer had spread to her lungs and was threatening her life considerably. It was partly due to Ryan’s abnormal genetic makeup that researchers could work out how to attack the mutation that’s the cause of many cancers.
In March 2015 Ryan was accepted onto the gene therapy trial and after spending a month in the hospital, letting the treatment do its thing, six out of the seven tumors she had disappeared. The treatment does not work for everyone, but every time it’s tried is another opportunity to learn something new. Dr. Steven Rosenberg is a leading researcher in immunotherapy at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland and heads the gene therapy trail. He says, “Many have not responded. But from every patient that we treat, whether… their cancers go away or not; we learn something.” But, the treatment worked for Ryan, and she is now celebrating ten months of being cancer free. Moving forward, Rosenberg explains, “We can do, and are planning to do, that kind of gene therapy using the exact receptor we got from Celine’s cells to treat other people.”
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