Sunday, December 2, 2012
Penn Doctor Cures Leukemia
Dr. Carl June, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, kicked off Thinkfest by discussing his groundbreaking cure, personalized cell therapy, for leukemia and possible other cancers. The cancer buster previewed his December 10 presentation to the American Society of Hematology (ASH).
Traditionally, leukemia has been treated with a bone marrow transplant. The body often rejects the foreign material resulting in horrible side effects and death. Personalized cell therapy does not have these side effects because it uses the patient's own cells. The patient's T cells are injected with a re-engineered form of the H.I.V-1 virus, which fights cancer instead of spreading AIDS.
So far 12 patients have been treated with this immunotherapy. Chemotherapy was not working for three adult patients with late stage Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). Each patient had between 3.5-7 pounds of tumor. Two of the patients have experienced complete remission and one a partial remission after being injected with the reconfigured T cells a year ago. It is still too soon to tell if the remissions are permanent.
One side effect of the treatment is it prevents the production of infection fighting antibodies. June dismissed this as a relatively minor side effect. "There is a pro football player that does not have antibodies. It only requires a transfusion once a month," he said.
Some of this has been reported by the New York Times and other publications. What is new is that children with acute leukemia are now in remission after a transfusion of re-configured T cells. One Children's Hospital patient, whose body was 76.3% overrun by unhealthy B cells, received the personalized cell therapy on April, 18, 2012. She attended the first day of school on August 29, 2012 disease free.
Next step for Dr. June and his colleagues is FDA approval so that he can cure the world. Pharmaceutical Giant Novartis is building a robot operated lab at the Center for Advanced Cellular Therapies to mix the personalized cell therapies so that a scientist does not have to mix each therapy separately.
Richard Vague, who has endowed a professorship at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine in immunotherapy, said, "Soon, Philadelphia will be known as the place cancer was cured.
I predict a Nobel Prize is in Dr. June's future. His Power Point presentation is below.