Thursday, December 13, 2012

Can the HIV Virus Cure Leukemia?

Apparently so, seven year old Emily was expected to die from an aggressive pediatric form of Leukemia last spring, but thanks to a new experimental treatment she has survived.

Emily underwent a new clinical trial that uses a disabled form of HIV to bring cancer-fighting genes to her T-cells. The idea behind this study is to reprogram the immune system to attack the cancer cells. The T-cells in question are first removed from the patient's body. They are then genetically altered and bioengineered with the disabled HIV virus. Therefor the patient is never injected with the actual HIV virus. Why? The cells are treated outside he body with the virus and then reinjected into the areas where leukemia is growing.

Seven months after the treatment, Emily's doctor found that she had no evidence of leukemia cells. He pronounced her healthy and in remission. This innovative experimental therapy saved her life. Emily became the first child to undergo the treatments called CTL019.

Before this recent procedure Emily had relapsed two times. Her family was about to give up hope since she did not seem to respond to any of the traditional treatments.

Trial leader and Pediatric Oncologist Stephan A. Grupp M.D, PH.D of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is one of the researchers behind this new medical discovery.

Sanna Klemetti

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