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Tech & Science

The simple injection that could 'cure' cancer: Australian doctor claims pioneering new treatment could eliminate blood cancer

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 6 days ago Brett Lackey

a woman in a white shirt: Doctors had given 19-year-old Todd O'Shea (pictured right with mother) very little chance of survival suffering from aggressive leukaemia along with a lung infection © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Doctors had given 19-year-old Todd O'Shea (pictured right with mother) very little chance of survival suffering from aggressive leukaemia along with a lung infection An Australian doctor and his team have been quietly working away on a revolutionary treatment they believe could eventually be a cure for cancer. 

Dr Ken Micklethwaite says the new treatment uses modified immune cells, called CAR T cells, that can search for cancer cells the immune system can't detect and destroy them.  

'We take immune cells that are unable to see cancer, we insert a gene in them that enables them to actually see and then respond to and kill cancer cells,' Dr Micklethwaite told 60 Minutes Australia

a man standing in a room: Dr Ken Micklethwaite says the new treatment uses modified immune cells, called CAR T cells, that can search for cancer cells the immune system can't detect © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Dr Ken Micklethwaite says the new treatment uses modified immune cells, called CAR T cells, that can search for cancer cells the immune system can't detect

The treatment consists of a single injection of the modified cells - a difference to traditional radiation and chemotherapy treatments. 

The treatment has been used in the United States with a 70-80 per cent success rate after recently being approved by the Food and Drug Administration. 

The cost, however, is staggeringly high at about half a million dollars per treatment. 

What Dr Micklethwaite and his team have been working on in Australia is a new way of creating the CAR T cells that reduces the price to about $10,000 per dose. 

A response is usually seen in about a month from receiving the treatment. 

One patient who received the treatment has made a remarkable recovery. 

Doctors had given 19-year-old Todd O'Shea very little chance of survival suffering from aggressive leukaemia along with a lung infection. 

Chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants both failed to work in fighting off the teenagers cancer. 

'I was terrified, I thought I was going to die, I was bawling my eyes out for days on end, just not knowing what to do,' he told 60 Minutes. 

Just months after being treated with the CAR T cells he is now in complete remission - with CAR T cells flowing in his body to destroy any more cancer that might appear. 

So far the treatment can only help with cancers in the blood but the team hopes it can be developed to fight other types such as lung or breast cancer. 

'My goal would be... for us to be able to say to people, 'we've given you this treatment and you are cured,' says Dr Micklethwaite.  

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