Doctors report ‘breakthrough’ treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

(NBC News) Doctors are reporting dramatic results of a new therapy for people with a form of blood cancer.

In some cases patients who’d been told they only had months to live went into complete remission.

The risky, experimental therapy was the very last stop for patients with an aggressive blood cancer Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

“These are patients who are absolutely not responding to standard of care chemotherapies,” says Dr. Frederick Locke of Moffitt Cancer Center.

Moffitt was part of the study of an immunotherapy called CAR-T.

Doctors take immune system cells called “t-cells” out of the patient’s body, then reprogram them to find and destroy cancer cells.

“Those little T cells become super soldiers with a GPS navigation directed against the lymphoma cells in this case,” Locke says.

The cells are then infused back into the body.

Out of 101 patients in the study 80-percent saw their tumors shrink, and eight months later a third are in complete remission.

CAR-T is not without serious risks because it can derail the body’s immune system.

“Three patients did die on this clinical trial, not of progressive lymphoma but of complications of the treatment itself,” Dr. Locke notes.

The Food and Drug Administration has given this experimental therapy “breakthrough” status. An approval could come by the end of this year.

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