Cancer cured in two infants using genetically engineered T-cells

Researches recently used genetically-engineered T-cells from a donor to cure two infants of their leukemia, according to a newly published study, hinting at a future in which leukemia treatments may be simple and relatively inexpensive. Per the study detailed in Science Translational Medicine, the work done by London's Great Ormond Street Hospital was a first attempt at such a treatment, proving wildly successful.

The two infants were only 11 months and 16 months old, and both had previously received treatments for their leukemia, which hadn't been successful. Under this new study, rather than using immune cells harvested and engineered from the patients themselves, this new method used donor cells engineered to attack leukemia.

Such T-cell treatments have proven successful elsewhere in treating blood cancers, and the rights to this latest treatment have already been sold to Cellectis; both Pfizer and Servier are both working on additional developments to the treatment. Thus far, successful treatments have largely involved using a patient's own blood.

This latest method, though — using donor cells — could lead to the creation of so-called "off the shelf" treatments, removing the delay in acquiring the patient's blood, shipping it out for engineering, then waiting for it to be shipped back. Treatments could effectively start immediately, with the cost of a 'dose' being somewhere around $4,000, less than 10% of the cost from using a patient's own blood.

SOURCE: MIT Technology Review