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Therapy boosts leukaemia remission rates

Press Association logoPress Association 6/06/2017 By Jane Kirby

A dual therapy using a patient's own genetically modified cells has led to 89 per cent of patients going into complete remission from a type of leukaemia.

A clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania found that combining CAR-T cell therapy with standard treatment dramatically boosts the number who are on their way to being cured.

A second study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago, showed 94 per cent of patients with multiple myeloma went into remission after CAR-T cell therapy.

CAR-T works by taking some of a patient's own immune cells (T cells) via a blood sample, and genetically modifying them in the lab so that they target and kill cancer cells.

The modified cells are grown in the lab and then re-infused into the patient.

In the University of Pennsylvania study, which was funded by pharmaceutical giant Novartis, 10 patients were given a CAR-T cell therapy (called CTL119) alongside a standard drug, ibrutinib.

They all had chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), which is not considered to be curable.

But by adding CTL119 to ibrutinib in the latest trial boosted remission rates to 89 per cent.

More than 3500 people are diagnosed with CLL each year in the UK and just over 1000 die from it.

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