EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

December 8, 2013

Gene therapy scores big wins against blood cancers

(Continued)

“That’s very unique to this kind of therapy” and gives hope the treatment may still purge the cancer, said Porter. Another 18 CLL patients were treated and half have responded so far.

Penn doctors also treated 27 ALL patients. All five adults and 19 of the 22 children had complete remissions, an “extraordinarily high” success rate, said Dr. Stephan Grupp at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Six have since relapsed, though, and doctors are pondering a second gene therapy attempt.

At the National Cancer Institute, Dr. James Kochenderfer and others have treated 11 patients with lymphoma and four with CLL, starting roughly two years ago. Six had complete remissions, six had partial ones, one has stable disease and it’s too soon to tell for the rest.

Ten other patients were given gene therapy to try to kill leukemia or lymphoma remaining after bone marrow transplants. These patients got infusions of gene-treated blood cells from their transplant donors instead of using their own blood cells. One had a complete remission and three others had significant reduction of their disease.

“They’ve had every treatment known to man. To get any responses is really encouraging,” Kochenderfer said. The cancer institute is working with a Los Angeles biotech firm, Kite Pharma Inc., on its gene therapy approach.

Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center will report on 13 patients with ALL; the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will report about two-dozen patients with ALL or lymphoma, and Baylor University will give results on 10 patients with lymphoma or myeloma.

Patients are encouraged that relatively few have relapsed.

“We’re still nervous every day because they can’t tell us what’s going to happen tomorrow,” said Tom Whitehead, 8-year-old Emily’s father.

Doug Olson, 67, a scientist for a medical device maker, shows no sign of cancer since gene therapy in September 2010 for CLL he had had since 1996.

“Within one month he was in complete remission. That was just completely unexpected,” said Porter, his doctor at Penn.

Olson ran his first half-marathon in January and no longer worries about how long his remission will last.

“I decided I’m cured. I’m not going to let that hang over my head anymore,” he said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World/National News

Latest U.S. News
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Jury Awards Ventura $1.8M in Defamation Case Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando Raw: NH Man Held on $1M in Teen's Kidnapping New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Senate Confirms McDonald As VA Secretary Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Fish Oil Plant Blast Kills One Two Huge Fires Burning in Northern California Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Suspect Dead, Marshals and Cop Wounded in NYC Judge OKs Record-setting $2B Sale of Clipper
Latest World News
Today in History for July 30th Raw: Aftermath, Artillery Shells Hit Donetsk Muslims Celebrate Eid El-Fitr Around the World Gaza Official: at Least 100 Killed Tuesday Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre Raw: Earthquake Rocks Mexico's Gulf Coast Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Today in History for July 29th Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Today in History for July 28th Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Today in History for July 27th
Photos of the Week