Doctors in the US have just made an amazing scientific breakthrough through, curing a woman who was in the advanced stages of cancer.
They used her own immune cells against the disease, in a world first – never before has the treatment been used successfully in a woman with late stage breast cancer.
Forty-nine-year-old Judy Perkins was faced with a terrifying prognosis after several rounds of punishing chemotherapy had failed to stop a tumour in her right breast.
The tumour spread to her liver and other areas, and she was given just three years to live.
That’s until she was selected for a radical new therapy.
The treatment, which is known as T-cell immunotherapy, works a little something like this. First, a biopsy is taken of the tumour. Then, scientists extract the immune cells from the
tumour. The purpose of these immune cells is to fight and kill the cancer, but in these cases they have failed. It could be that they’re too weak, or too few.
The naturally-occurring immune cells are then multiplied over and over again in a lab, before being injected back into the patient, where they can get to work.
It’s like taking one fairly decent soldier and multiplying it thousands of times to form an unstoppable army.
In Perkins’ case, 80 billion immune cells were injected into her body. And it worked. After 42 weeks, Perkins was completely free of cancer. She’s still cancer-free two years later.
The success of this case has raised hopes that the therapy could also be used to treat advanced ovarian and prostate cancers. These types of cancers are all similar in that they’re hard for the body to identify and fight.
“My condition deteriorated a lot towards the end, and I had a tumour pressing on a nerve, which meant I spent my time trying not to move at all to avoid pain shooting down my arm. I had given up fighting,” Perkins said. “After the treatment dissolved most of my
tumours, I was able to go for a 40-mile hike.”
Simon Vincent, director of research at Breast Cancer Now, added: “This is a remarkable and extremely promising result, but we need to see this effect repeated in other patients before giving hope of a new immunotherapy for incurable metastatic breast cancer.
“We are thrilled by this early finding, but we must remember that this type of immunotherapy remains an experimental approach that has a long way to go before it might be routinely available to patients.”
Still, massive well done to these brilliant doctors, and we hope Judy continues to live a long and happy hike-filled, cancer-free life.