Cancer Breakthrough: New Therapy Produces 'Unprecedented' Results In Terminally Ill Patients

16/02/2016 10:33 | Updated 16 February 2016

A new therapy for cancer patients has been hailed as a breakthrough after doctors in the US found "unprecedented" results in terminally ill patients.

Study participants who were given months to live had "extraordinary" results after being treated with engineered T-cells, which is a type of white blood cell.

In one study, more than nine out of ten participants diagnosed with leukaemia saw their symptoms vanish after undergoing a trial treatment.

cancer cells

Cancer cells

Patients who had other types of blood cancers also saw positive results having response rates greater than 80%, the Guardian reports.


The new technique involves removing T-cells from the patient and adding specific receptor molecules, known as chimeric antigen receptors (or CARs) that can target cancer.

The newly modified cells are then put back into the patient where they can target cancer cells.

Lead scientist, Stanley Riddell, said:"This is unprecedented in medicine, to be honest, to get response rates in this range in these very advanced patients.”

Speaking at the annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement for Science (AAAS) in Washington DC, he added: “These are in patients that have failed everything. Most of the patients in our trial would be projected to have two to five months to live.”

The therapy is yet to be tested in patients with solid tumours. However, this breakthrough is a stepping stone for future developments.

Haematologist, Chiara Bonini, told the Guardian the test results are a "revolution."

She believes it could provide hope for a more long-term defence if scientists can modify memory T-cells, which remembers diseases and fights them years later.

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