Some Good News, for a Change? A Cancer Cure Breakthrough

With all the terrible political happenings and the understandable gloom and doom in the news landscape, it's good to know scientists are still working hard to keep people healthier and cure the illnesses that break our hearts.

And that in turn is an important reminder of why funding and support of the sciences and scientific exploration is so crucial to our society. Ahem, austerity-embracing Republicans!

From Eryn Brown of the LA Times:

In a potential breakthrough in cancer research, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have genetically engineered patients' T cells — a type of white blood cell — to attack cancer cells in advanced cases of a common type of leukemia.

Two of the three patients who received doses of the designer T cells in a clinical trial have remained cancer-free for more than a year, the researchers said.

Experts not connected with the trial said the feat was important because it suggested that T cells could be tweaked to kill a range of cancers, including ones of the blood, breast and colon.

"This is a huge accomplishment — huge," said Dr. Lee M. Nadler, dean for clinical and translational research at Harvard Medical School, who discovered the molecule on cancer cells that the Pennsylvania team's engineered T cells target.

Of course, trials like this are a long, long way from trickling down into regular treatment for suffering patients. Still, it's remarkable to see medical professionals speaking so optimistically. 

Read the full story at the LA Times.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at August 11, 2011, 5:15am

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