Cancer is undoubtedly one of the most dreaded diseases in modern times. It is amongst the leading causes of death worldwide. In fact, it is expected that more that 1.5 million people would be diagnosed in the United States in 2016 alone and a third of that number would succumb to the disease.
However, according to statistics the overall cancer death rate has been on a decline since the early 90s. This in part is due to the impressive efforts scientists have put into cancer research. There is a long way to go before the threat of cancer is eliminated. Fortunately, researchers have recently unveiled treatment that takes humanity one step closer to finding a cure for the disease altogether.
During the recent annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC, scientists from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Centre in Seattle unveiled a treatment that has successfully put 90% of its terminally ill test subjects into remission. The researchers took samples of killer T-cells from the patients and genetically modified them into targeting tumour cells.
"Essentially what this process does is, it genetically reprograms the T-cell to seek out and recognise and destroy the patient's tumour cells. [The patients] were really at the end of the line in terms of treatment options and yet a single dose of this therapy put more than ninety percent of these patients in complete remission" explained Professor Randell, lead scientist.
The study indeed produced very impressive results. However it seems like the new procedure comes with daunting side effects. Seven of the total test subjects developed cytokine release syndrome which is the result of the T Cells activating before they should be destroyed. Patients ended up feeling feverish and had to be put in intesive care. Two of the seven test subjects died from the research.