December 26, 2012 – Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center continue to work on a new approach to treating leukemia using genetically engineered T cell immunotherapy. The promising treatment involves a gene therapy technique utilizing the sick patient’s own immune cells, which are called T cells, to fight cancer cells. In this technique, T Cells are removed from the patient, genetically modified or changed in the laboratory using a gene modification technique, and are then infused back into the patient’s body following chemotherapy.
The modification process permits the T Cells to identify the cancer cells as foreign. When they are reintroduced back into a cancer patient’s body, they hunt down and destroy the cancer cells by targeting a single molecule, CD-19, that is found on certain types of cancer cells. Although there are side effects, sometimes severe, that can occur with this new therapy including fever and chills, they have been witnessed to be short lived, lasting about a week.
Early Study Shows Some Patients Experience Complete Remission
The researchers conducted an earlier study that included 10 adult patients and 2 children with advanced chemotherapy-resistant leukemia. Two of the first 3 patients are still in full remission, cancer free, more than two years after receiving the genetically engineered T cells. Nine of the 12 patients showed a positive response to the therapy. These findings were reported last year in publications of the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine. The researchers presented their latest results this month at the American Society of Hematology’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.
The pioneer behind this gene therapy is Dr. Carl June, professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine as well as the director of Translational Research in Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center. It is the hope that this advanced treatment for leukemia and lymphoma will someday be the therapy of choice over the more traditional bone marrow transplant, which carries a substantial mortality risk of at least 20 percent. In addition, it is the hope that this therapy can be even further developed to include other cancers and malignancies such as cancers of the lung, breast, pancreas, prostrate, ovaries, and other blood cancers as well as mesothelioma.
Recently, the University of Pennsylvania and Novartis announced that they have joined together to conduct additional studies to further develop and manufacture the immunotherapy technologies. In addition, they plan to build a Center for Advanced Cellular Therapies (CACT) in Philadelphia.
A clinical trial for the modified T-cell immunotherapy is currently underway. They are seeking adult patients suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia to participate. More information is available on the Abramson Cancer Center website or by calling toll free at 855-216-0098.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at the Shein Law Support Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center in the Fight Against Cancer
Philadelphia mesothelioma attorney, Benjamin Shein, is optimistic and hopeful that this new immunotherapy will prove to be lifesaving for those individuals who are diagnosed with certain blood cancers as well as the hope that it will prove beneficial for other types of cancer as well. The Shein Law and the Benjamin Shein Family Foundation support research at the Abramson Cancer Center and Penn Medicine’s Mesothelioma & Pleural Program.
The mesothelioma attorneys at Shein Law have been working with victims of asbestos-related diseases including mesothelioma and lung cancer for over 25 years. We are local attorneys in the Philadelphia-South Jersey region committed to seeking justice and compensation for those individuals and their families in our community who are suffering from the devastating effects of asbestos exposure. If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease, contact the Shein Law today at 877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) to schedule a free and confidential consultation or fill out our online contact form. We maintain offices in Center City Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, but will meet with you and your family at a location convenient to you.