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August 31, 2006

Gene Therapy supercharges immune system success versus cancer

From Forbes: Working with 17 patients with advanced, metastatic melanoma skin cancers, Rosenberg's team first removed a small sample of normal T-cells from each patient. Next, the researchers genetically engineered the cells to carry a specific cell-surface receptor, one that would help them recognize melanoma cells.

These "re-armed" cells were then introduced back into the patient's bloodstream, where it was hoped they would gradually replace less-able lymphocytes and mount a fierce, sustained attack against the cancer.

That's exactly what happened for two of the 17 patients in the study, who quickly went into a sustained remission. "These two patients were treated over a year ago and are now disease-free," Rosenberg said

This is early work, but as the procedure is optimized holds the hope of higher rates of success.

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