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Extraordinary Treatment Could Be Cancer Breakthrough
A new treatment which trains the immune system to attack cancer has shown "extraordinary" results - and could be a potential breakthrough in curing the disease.
In one study 94% of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia saw their symptoms vanish completely.
And patients with other blood cancers saw response rates of more than 80%, with half experiencing complete remission.
"This is extraordinary. It's unprecedented in medicine to be honest, to get response rates in this range in these very advanced patients."
The treatment involves removing immune cells called T-cells from patients, tagging them with "receptor" molecules that target cancer and then infusing them back in the body.
ITV News Science Correspondent Alok Jha said the study was an important step forward as it focused on a completely new strategy for dealing with cancer but warned that the results should be viewed with caution.
Noting that only blood cancers had been addressed in this particular study he warned "there are lots of types of cancer, hundreds of different types of diseases not just one thing" and it still remained to be seen if it applied to other types of the disease.
So far, the technique has only been tried on patients with "liquid" blood cancers.
Prof Riddell hopes to progress to patients with solid tumours, but points out that this will be challenging.
It was also pointed out that some of those treated suffered severe side effects - the condition, called cytokine release syndrome, affected seven patients so badly they needed intensive care. Two of the patients died.