A woman with an aggressive form of breast cancer which defied chemotherapy and spread to other organs, was cured with an experimental treatment that triggered her immune system, researchers said Monday.
The woman has been cancer-free for two years, reported the US-based team, presenting their results as “a new immunotherapy approach” for the treatment of patients with a late-stage form of the disease.
Other experts not involved in the work hailed it as “exciting”.
So-called “immunotherapy” has already been shown to work in some people with cancer of the lung, cervix, blood cells (leukaemia), skin (melanoma) and bladder.
But an immune breakthrough for bowel, breast and ovary cancer has remained elusive.
In the latest study, a team extracted immune cells called lymphocytes from the patient, tweaked them in the lab, then reinjected them.
The woman was 49 when she signed up for the clinical trial after several attempts at a cure through conventional treatments had failed, said the study published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine.
The cancer had spread to various parts of her body, including the liver.
A person’s immune system is designed to kill invaders, including rogue, cancerous cells. But it can fail, often because it cannot recognise cancer cells containing the patient’s own DNA.
Immunotherapy trains a patient’s own immune cells to recognise and fight cancer.
For the new study, researchers took lymphocytes from a tumour in the woman’s body and scanned them for specific types which reacted to mutant, cancerous cells.
– Complete regression –
These were reactivated or “switched on” in the lab and injected back, along with a so-called “immune checkpoint inhibitor” — another type of immunotherapy that has shown success in other types of cancer.
This resulted in a “highly personalised” anti-cancer therapy that yielded “complete tumour regression,” the researchers wrote.
In a comment also published by Nature Medicine, expert Laszlo Radvanyi from Canada’s Ontario Institute for Cancer Research said the woman’s response to the treatment was “unprecedented” for such advanced breast cancer.
This work showed “we are now at the cusp of a major revolution in finally realising the elusive goal of being able to target the plethora of mutations in cancer through immunotherapy,” he wrote.
In a reaction via the Science Media Centre in London, immunotherapy professor Alan Melcher of The Institute of Cancer Research said the trial was “fascinating and exciting”.
The work “provides a major ‘proof-of-principle step forward, in showing how the power of the immune system can be harnessed to attack even the most difficult-to-treat cancers,” he said.
Peter Johnson, an oncology professor at the Cancer Research UK Centre, said the study confirmed the immune system can recognise some cancers, and “if this can be stimulated in the right way, even cancers that have spread to different parts of the body may be treatable.”
The technique is “highly specialised and complex”, he cautioned, and may not be suitable for many patients.
Don Lemon lists ‘manipulative garbage’ Trump uses to exploit his supporters’ ignorance
CNN host Don Lemon thinks that President Donald Trump is using issues like race to manipulate his voters into voting against their own interest.
In his opening commentary, Lemon showed the clip of Trump's supporters chanting "send her back" at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who is a Somali immigrant who came to the U.S. when she was just 12 years old.
He then cited a tweet that Trump sent out earlier Wednesday.
"New Poll: The Rasmussen Poll, one of the most accurate in predicting the 2016 Election, has just announced that "Trump" numbers have recently gone up by four points, to 50 percent. Thank you to the vicious young Socialist Congresswomen. America will never buy your act! #MAGA2020," Trump tweeted.
Seth Meyers hilariously jabs ‘most oily’ Trump child Don Jr.
Late-night host Seth Meyers took an epic jab at Donald Trump Jr. during his Wednesday night show.
Meyers showed the clip of Trump appointee Ken Cuccinelli going down in flames in a CNN interview where he tried to pretend he hadn't heard the president's racist tweets. The host not only read the tweets for Cuccinelli, but she also caught him being asked about the tweets the day before on another show.
Trump and the GOP stand for ‘blaming others if you’re not happy where you are’: Democratic congressman
Unapologetic about his racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color, President Donald Trump stood smugly by at his Wednesday rally in Greenville, South Carolina as his supporters attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) with chants of "Send her back! Send her back!"
In conversation with CNN's Chris Cuomo, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) denounced it as just standard operating procedure for this president and the party that elected him.
"I want to talk health care, but ... [Trump] ain't going to campaign on health care," said Cuomo. "He's going to campaign that there's something wrong with the way you look and people like you are a little bit of a danger. And we're a little bit better off when you guys stay where you were before you were here. That's his campaign. He is confident. How do you counter?"