(NEW YORK) — An experimental form of immune therapy may hold the key to successful treatment of a deadly form of adult leukemia, a preliminary study suggests.
According to HealthDay News, the study, which included just five adults with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), showed promise as treatment for the disease.
ALL progresses quickly and often kills patients within weeks if left untreated. According to HealthDay, the first treatment usually involves three separate treatments of chemotherapy drugs. While that treatment often helps patients experience a remission, the cancer often returns.
Dr. Renier Brentjens, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and his team decided to test a different course of action.
The five patients in the study received infusions of their own immune system’s T-cells, but the T-cells were genetically engineered with chimeric antigen receptors to help them recognize and destroy the leukemia cells.
All give patients experienced remission, with one patient reaching remission within eight days, according to HealthDay News.
Four of the patients proceeded to have a bone marrow transplant to aid in their recovery. The fifth was deemed ineligible due to heart disease and other health conditions.
The treatment studied by Dr. Brentjens, known as adoptive T-cell therapy, is not available outside of the research setting, but does amaze researchers in its potential. Much research must still be done before the treatment would be considered for non-research use.
Nearly 6,100 people are diagnosed with ALL each year, and more than 1,400 of those will die, according to statistics from the National Cancer Institute.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio