What if your body could be reprogrammed to assassinate cancer cells? It may sound like the plot from a futuristic sci-fi movie, but it’s actually happening right now. A group of researchers are already testing it on leukemia patients…and with promising results. If fully realized, the research has the potential to strike a definitive blow in the war against cancer. And it may eliminate toxic treatments like chemotherapy and radiation for good.
Dr. Carl June is the man leading the project. He’s the Director of Translational Research at the Abramson Cancer Center for the University of Pennsylvania. And he’s been studying ways to use the immune system to fight cancer for two decades.
He and his colleagues recently put the cell assassin theory to the test. They conducted a phase one trial on three leukemia patients. And their results surprised even them.
“The trial exceeded our wildest outcome(s) and imagination,” says Dr. June. “Literally pounds of leukemia have been eradicated in all three patients.”
And now they’ve published those results in a peer-reviewed journal. Other independent scientists are reading about them in this month’s The New England Journal of Medicine. And Dr. Caetano Reis e Souza says the research offers “truly impressive results.”
Dr. Reis e Souza heads up lab research for the London Research Institute and Cancer Research UK. He’s published over two-dozen peer-reviewed articles on the subject. And he says these results prove that “immunotherapy is finally coming of age.”
The Heroic T-Cells
All three leukemia patients had advanced-stage leukemia. Each patient had already tried chemotherapy…but the treatment hadn’t worked. The cancer returned in each case…so their doctors started looking for other alternatives.
Such cases usually require a bone marrow transplant. But that comes with complications and it’s not always easy finding a match. It also works best in younger patients and not so well in older ones.
So Dr. June and his team tried something new. They took the patient’s own cells and genetically modified them. They did this by isolating T-cells that protect the body from infection. They then used a tool called a virus vector to insert a new gene into the cells’ DNA.
The gene caused the T-cells to produce an antibody. It’s called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). And it targets cancer cells.
“We put a key onto the surface of the T-cells that fits into a lock that only the cancer cells have,” says co-researcher Dr. Michael Kalos.
The T-cells were inserted into the patients. And they effectively became “serial killers.” They hunted down and “assassinated” at least 1,000 cancer cells in each patient.
“We found that all three patients had a remarkable anti-tumor response,” says Dr. June. That’s because the treatment totally eradicated the cancer cells in two patients. And it reduced them by 70 percent in the third. And what’s equally impressive is that they were able to reactivate and kill cancer cells for as long as 12 months.
Side effects were also very minor. Researchers noted only mild nausea and fever during the first couple of days of treatment…and no long-term effects.
“Within three weeks, the tumors had been blown away,” says Dr. June. “In a way that was much more violent than we ever expected. It worked much better than we thought it would.”
He says the study is the first of its kind to make such progress without the support of the pharmaceutical industry. It’s a philanthropic and academic endeavor. And it’s supported by the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy.
The results of the study could lead to a cure, not just for leukemia but for other cancers too.
“The promise of this is profound,” says Dr. Kalos. “If this repeats in more patients…it shows that we can, with amazing effectiveness, blow away cancer cells.”
The research team will now treat four more patients. And if successful will progress onto a larger Phase II trial.
But those trials will take time. And that means a widely available treatment will be sometime off.
In the meantime, our researchers are currently seeking out the most potent immune-boosting supplement available. We plan on making it available to you soon. So stay tuned for more information.
And there are steps that you can take right now to protect your body from cancer. Begin by eating lots of antioxidants like blueberries and strawberries. These are known cancer-fighters. Get plenty of exercise. And when possible, find ways to cut down on stress. To find more specific information on fighting cancer, check out our article here.
As always, NHD will continue to follow Dr. June’s work, and keep you posted on the latest in the fight against cancer.
To your best health,
Managing Editor, NHD “Health Watch”