An emerging experimental treatment that has shown success in leukemia patients could potentially be the key to curing cancer. Researchers have been exploring immunotherapy, using the body’s own defenses to fight cancer. Recent developments have proven effective in not only treating cancer, but eliminating it from the body. If the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the new therapy, it could radically change the prognosis for many cancer patients, including those suffering from mesothelioma.
Cancer is unique in that it is caused by the body’s own mutated cells. The biggest challenge for researchers was getting the immune system to target these cells, which were once healthy tissue. After decades of trial and error, researchers at the Penn Abramson Cancer Center, led by Dr. Carl June, were able to identify a unique marker for leukemia cells called CD19. Immune cells were genetically modified with a protein to attach to CD19 and reprogrammed to attack cells that present this marker.
Targeted Immunotherapy More Effective Than Chemotherapy
Known as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, these genetically enhanced immune cells can destroy cancerous cells with a precision that cannot be achieved through chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. The T cells can identify and eliminate cancer cells unique to that person. Additionally, once the modified cells are introduced back into the body, they multiply, allowing the body to continue fighting off cancer indefinitely without the need for further treatment. Patients will no longer need to follow strict medication regimens or endure weekly trips to their oncologist.
It has been a long road for immunotherapy researchers, including those at Penn. Concerns about gene therapy grew in the late 1990s when a teenager suffered a fatality from treatment for a hereditary disorder, which jeopardized funding for cancer immunotherapy. It was only through the help of private donors that Dr. June was able to continue his work. The first tests in human patients in 2010 showed remarkable success in eradicating leukemia cells.
FDA Approval Could Bring Immunotherapy to More Patients
The success of the trials involving leukemia patients has motivated doctors treating other types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic, sarcoma, and brain cancers, to get these patients into similar trials. If immunotherapy proves effective for other types of cancer, it could revolutionize the treatment of cancer and save countless lives. An advisory board for the FDA voted unanimously to make the therapy available to leukemia patients who have not had success with other treatments.
New treatment methods, especially those demonstrating this level of success, are always good news to mesothelioma patients. Mesothelioma, a rare and fatal cancer caused by asbestos exposure, is notoriously resistant to many common treatment methods. There is currently no cure for the disease, and patients who are diagnosed often have a short life expectancy.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Shein Law Advocate for Those Affected by Asbestos Exposure
If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, call the Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law. Our knowledgeable, experienced lawyers will determine who is at fault for your asbestos exposure and develop a sound legal strategy to obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we help mesothelioma patients and their families throughout Pennsylvania and South Jersey. Call us today at 877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) or contact us online.