A New Cancer Treatment Has Given Terminal Patients a Second Chance at Life
• Gene therapy has been shown in clinical trials to not just treat cancer, but possibly cure it.
• The treatments have risks — including death — so additional research is needed before they could become widely available.
COULD THIS TREATMENT CURE CANCER?
Despite the many advances in medicine over the last century, a cure for one of the most prevalent and devastating diseases in the world today continues to evade us. But thanks to new research, that could soon change.
Kite Pharma, a US pharmaceutical company, just of their six-month gene therapy trial: terminal cancer patients in complete remission after just a single round.
The treatment filters a patient’s blood to remove （無連結）, immune system cells that can be genetically engineered in a lab to identify cancer cells. Cancer cells thrive because of their ability to evade the immune system. This new therapy boosts immune cells so that they are able to eliminate cancer cells more effectively.
Patients who participated in the trial had one of three types of . The advanced stage of their conditions meant all of them were given only a few months to live. However, following the first round of gene therapy, which took place nine months after the trial began, half the patients are not only still alive, but a third of them appear to be cured.
Among them is a 43- year-old named Dimas Padilla from Orlando, Florida whose cancer had stopped responding to chemotherapy. He completed the first round of the trial’s treatment last August, and his cancer is now in remission.
參加這個試驗的病人所得的是三種癌當中的非何傑金氏淋巴癌（ ）。這些病人的病況如果再惡化，他們剩下的時間就會只有短短數月了。然而，在第一輪基因治療後、試驗開始後第九個月時，有一半的受試病人還活著，而且在他們之中有三分之一的人似乎被完全治癒。被治癒的人中，有一位四十三歲的病人名叫 Dimas Padilla，他來自佛羅里達州的奧蘭多。在接受試驗之前，化療已對他的癌症失去效用。在上個八月份，他完成第一輪試驗，而且他的癌症現在已經緩解。
WORTH THE RISK?
“These results are promising and suggest that one day CAR-T cells could become a treatment option for some patients with certain types of lymphoma,” said head cancer information nurse, Martin Ledwick from the Cancer Research UK, in an interview with .
While the results are promising and could prove to be life- changing for patients with terminal cancer, the treatment is not without risks.
來自英國癌症研究中心（Cancer Research UK）的首席癌症資訊護士Martin Ledwick在一次與的訪談中表示：「這些結果帶來了希望，將來有一天嵌合抗原受體T 细胞免疫療法（CAR-T cells）可以成為特定淋巴癌患者的治療選項之一。」
Because the therapy essentially puts the human immune system to go into overdrive by radically altering human cells, complications are certainly possible — some of which could be fatal. In fact, during the trial, two people died as a result of the therapy — not because of the cancer. Some patient’s immune systems overreacted in its effort to kill the cancer cells, while others developed blood-count related issues such as （無連結）. Reports of patients suffering from neurological problems were also cited, but these side effects apparently only lasted a few days.
More studies are needed to understand the therapy’s side effects, potential complications, and long-term benefits.
The trial’s full results won’t be presented until April, and the pharmaceutical company still has to get approval from the European regulatory boards — which means it will be a while yet before the therapy becomes available. Given the possible risks, it might give them enough time to study the therapy further and refine the process — hopefully eliminating any adverse effects.
Although, as the Cancer Institute’s Dr. Steven Rosenberg points out: “It’s a safe treatment, certainly a lot safer than having progressive lymphoma.”