It seems that there’s an new, experimental, gene therapy that may cure cancer. At least, for two of three test subjects, it cured advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia. That’s a type of cancer, incidentally, very similar to the diffuse large B-cell lymphoma that I was diagnosed as having back in 2007. You can read the full story over at the New York Times, but, here’s the rundown in brief.
The researchers took regular, virus-and-tumor-fighting T-cells from the patients and added specially tailored genes to them which let the T-cells target the cancer cells. Then, they “dripped” the altered T-cells back into the patients, who had already exhausted all other treatment options, including chemotherapy and bone-marrow transplants. Ten days later, the first patient got the chills. And his temperature spiked while his blood pressure dropped. The doctors moved him to an intensive care unit, not quite sure what was happening to him. A few weeks later, all his symptoms were gone. And so was the leukemia. He was normal.
Granted, there have only been three test cases, including the one I just described, with varying results, but two out of the three had an apparently complete cure of their cancer. For most of us who have had cancer of any kind, those are pretty damn good odds. They’re odds that I’d take, should I have cancer again, that’s for sure.
And, frankly, it all sounds like a miracle, like science-fiction come true.
When I was getting chemotherapy, I ordered a t-shirt, really without thinking too much about it. It was a joke, about the future and how we were promised jetpacks and how the futurists lied to us. But, when it arrived, I read it more closely. Here’s what it said:
“they lied to us
this was supposed to be the future
where is my jetpack,
where is my robotic companion,
where is my dinner in pill form,
where is my hydrogen fueled automobile,
where is my nuclear-powered levitating home,
where is my cure for this disease”
Well, it looks like the future is now.