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Doctors in the University of Mississippi medical Center have had a breakthrough in science by having a baby that has been cured of HIV. This baby is popularly called the “Mississippi Baby” and was born with HIV and then given antiretroviral drugs around 30 hours after birth. The baby is now around two years old and they confirm that the baby had not been on any medication since it was around a  [...]

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Breakthrough in Leukemia

Submitted by on December 14, 2012 – 1:22 amNo Comment




Recently there has been a new trend wherein the patients with advanced leukemia are given an experimental treatment. This was developed at the University of Pennsylvania. Other centres have followed suit and he Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the National Cancer Institute have also applied this kind of treatment.

The main goal is to have a cure. The new treatment is expected to come in place of the bone marrow transplantation method which is even more an uphill tasks. This is also an expensive treatment and is also the last resort when all other treatments have failed.

The latest report says that there were three adults who had chronic leukemia treated in this manner and they later showed no signs of the disease. Two of them in fact have been healthy for more than two years. There were four others who did not have complete remissions and out of them one was just recently treated. But there were two people in whom the treatment did not show much response.Breakthrough in Leukemia

In spite of the mixed results, there are cancer experts who say that it does have great potential as in this early phase of testing, there are positive results ever in very hopeless cases. This is thus a major breakthrough in medical science.

This is a phenomenal effort in the direction of treatment of leukemia and this is what everyone has been hoping for since a long time. Novartis a major drug company has also committed around $20 million to help in building a research centre so that the treatment can be brought into the market.

The research and the results are said to be fantastic and with a lot of potential and the entire treatment for leukemia is thus going to be revolutionized with this concept. The patients’ immune system would thus be reprogrammed and thus eventually we can also treat conditions like prostrate and breast cancers.

For the treatment the doctors take out millions of T cells from the patient. This is a kind of white blood cell and then they put in new genes that help the T Cells t destroy all the cancerous cells. This is a technique that has a disabled form of H.I.V. This is extremely good in carrying the genetic mater into the T cells. The new genes help to conduct the T cells to attack the B cells which are a normal part of the immune system that normally turn malignant during leukemia.

Now the altered or changed T cells are put back into the veins in the patient and if everything is alright they multiply thus killing the cancer within. These altered T cells are called chimeric antigen receptor cells.

Leukemia CellsThe T cells attack a protein called CD 19 which are there on the outer covering of the B cells whether they are malignant or healthy.

If the treatment works on the patient then the patient becomes sick and has chills and raging fever. This is a reaction termed shake and bake by the oncologists. Medically termed as cytokine release syndrome this is the way the chemicals coming out of the cells in the immune system pour out. AS they are activated there is fever and such symptoms. Also called the cytokine storm the effect floods the lungs and thus causes a drop in blood pressure and these are scary effects and in one patient almost killed her too.

Steroids sometimes make the reaction a little comfortable but they do not always help.Tocillzumab is a drug that helps to ease the reaction and since then doctors have been using this. The T cells persist in the system for a long time in some patients and in some for ever. They are considered as living drugs and are given only upto three times.

Thus there is anew batch of T cells that have to be created for every patient. This is unlike the strategy of having a drug for million people.

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