Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have devised a treatment for certain tough-to-treat types of cancer, according to an executive at the Seattle-based nonprofit.
The treatment, which aims the human immune system at metastatic cancers, is called CAR-T cell therapy, according to KIRO-AM.
CAR-T cell therapy has been used with about 200 patients at Fred Hutch with good results.
“Most cases, these are patients who have no other hope for treatment, that have been through all the other treatments that we have to offer, and still have cancer,” Fred Hutch president Gary Gilliard told KIRO.
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Here’s how Gilliard described the treatment:
A patient’s immune cells (T-lymphocytes) are removed and medically engineered to attack cancer cells and kill them once they make contact. A small amount of the cells are reinjected into the patient, about the size of a grain of rice.
Only a single chemotherapy treatment is given to patients to lower their lymphocyte count, allowing the modified lymphocytes to establish themselves.
“It is not therapy that causes your hair to fall out or makes you nauseous,” Gilliard told KIRO.
Researchers first treated people with blood cancers, seeing success rates from 50 to 90 percent. They’ve since taken the treatment to ovarian cancer and lung cancer to see if it can help patients with those diseases.
Fred Hutch is trying to get FDA registration for the treatment.