New gene therapy uses T-cells to attack tumours

US RESEARCHERS have reported striking success in the use of a novel gene therapy technique to reduce tumour burden in three patients with advanced chronic lymphoid leukaemia.

The technique, which harnesses autologous T-cells to target and destroy tumour cells, may be applicable to a range of other cancers, scientists said.

“We saw amazing results,” study author Dr Michael Kalos (PhD) said.

“These were nasty tumours that were late-stage, a lot of mutations that had a bad prognosis.

“We saw massive reductions in tumour burden. One patient had over [three kilograms] of tumour and it all disappeared.”

Two patients were free of leukaemia after a year but one patient had recurrence of cancer, albeit with substantially reduced tumour load.

The patients’ T-cells were genetically engineered to attack all cells expressing the protein CD19, including tumour cells.