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Two leukemia babies in remission after injection of new kind of edited T-cells

Date: 6.2.2017 

Two babies given an experimental kind of edited T-cells to treat their leukemia remain in remission after more than a year. 
Kredit: Val Altounian / Science Translational Medicine (2017).

The cells used to treat the two babies were part of a modified form of CAR-T cell therapy, in which a virus is used to edit a gene in an immune cell taken from the patient to cause it to attack cancer cells—once ready, it is injected back into the patient.

This approach has been found to be quite successful in a number of children, but is not nearly as applicable to sick infants with low numbers of healthy immune cells. In this new effort, the researchers started with immune cells from a donor and then modified them in several important ways.

The first change was to disable the gene responsible for causing the immune system to attack the donated cell after recognizing it as a foreign body. Another change caused the edited cells to recognize and attack cancer cells. A third change was part of an effort to offset the likelihood of the recipient developing graft-versus-host disease.

The first recipient of the experimental cells was an 11-month-old girl who received her edited cells in June of 2015—she was followed by a 16-month-old child who was injected in December of 2015. Both of the girls also underwent chemotherapy. They also received bone marrow transplants after a period of time to restore their immune systems and to flush the edited cells from their bodies.

One of the babies developed graft-host disease despite the gene change, which was promptly resolved with treatment. Both girls are now home with their families and are reportedly in good health.

 


 

OPPI, MPO, EU

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