Leukaemia patients no longer responding to chemotherapy may soon have a lifeline.
An Australian-first trial coming in Westmead Hospital is altering a patient’s genes so their own immune cells join the fight against tumours.
The trial, run by Westmead Hospital with support from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, has treated six patients so far with excellent responses to the revolutionary treatment.
For more than ten years, Westmead Hospital’s Dr Ken Micklethwaite has been working on the treatment.
Dr Ken Micklethwaite told renowned journalist Charles Wooleyabout his ambitious trial on Channel 9’s 60 Minutes.
“The motivation for doing this sort of work is because we want to cure cancer,” Dr Micklethwaite said.
“We want to say to them (patients) that we’ve got this thing, and it will most likely cure you.”
Leukaemia is a type of cancer affecting the blood, bone marrow and the lymphatic system.
The treatment being trailed uses modified immune cells called Car-T cells. Immune cells that are unable to see cancels have a gene inserted in them that can respond and kill cancer cells.
The therapy currently comes with a 70 to 80 per cent success rate.
For 19-year-old Westmead Hospital patient Todd O’Shea, Dr Ken Micklethwaite’s treatment was life-saving.
Several months post treatment, Todd was in remission.
“I couldn’t believe that there was no cancer in me at all,” Todd said.
“I thought this was it, this is a new beginning.”
Todd will be considered completely cured in five years.
Read more about the revolutionary treatment and watch the 60 Minutes story here.