‘Baby steps’ is what they call it.
The idea of ‘retraining’ a cancer patient’s white blood cells to fight the battle for them, in place of radiation or a scalpel, is thrilling to say the least. Thrilling not due to its sheer ambitiousness, but its apparent efficacy — a result that may save millions of lives sooner rather than later.
According to Cancer Research UK, as much as 352,197 individuals received cancer diagnoses throughout 2013. During the previous year, nearly half (161,823) lost their lives due to the illness. All this despite the rise in cancer survival rates in the country; now at 50% from the 24% of 40 years ago.
The news of a breakthrough cancer treatment broke during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Patients, doctors, and families the world over have relished the discovery, as researchers work to swiftly push the cure’s development forward.
Starting to Overcome
Consultants from The Wells Suite, a Pembury treatment centre, express their cautious optimism regarding this immunotherapy approach. They say that while the researchers reported a 90% remission rate among test subjects, there may still be a host of unforeseen side effects that scientists need to address as they refine the treatment process.
The new cure’s lead scientist, Prof Stanley Riddell from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, explains that the process ‘genetically reprograms the T-cell to seek out and recognise and destroy the patient’s tumour cells’, saying that while the discovery may not yet be applicable as a standard cure, it still means that other cancer cure research efforts now have more ground to work with.
Scientists are currently making unprecedented leaps and bounds in the search for a cancer cure, all due to the breakthrough Prof Riddell and his colleagues have made. Cancer Research UK reports that only half of cancer patients survive for more than 10 years, but a decade may be more than enough to see themselves secure their future for far longer.