New cancer treatment shows almost unheard of results - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

New cancer treatment shows almost unheard of results

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

New cancer treatments are showing almost unheard of results. 

Nearly 95 percent of patients they tested with one kind of cancer are now in complete remission.
 
Dr. Bud Robertson with Memorial University Medical Center says this new T-Cell therapy is really working on primarily liquid tumors, and it could be the treatment of the future.
 
So, what is T-Cell therapy? 

It's basically reprogramming a patient's immune system so it recognizes and attacks cancer.
 
"Taking out cytotoxic lymphocytes and priming them outside the body and then reinfusing
them where like a magic bullet they'll go right to the cancer," said Dr. Robertson.
 
One recent study tested the treatment on Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia patients and 94 percent saw their symptoms vanish.

"It's almost too good to be true,” said Dr. Robertson. “Response rates like that where you would anticipate a 5 to 10 percent chance of anything helping and now over 90 percent of the patients had a complete remission."

Those battling other kinds of blood cancer saw astonishing results as well, with more than 80 percent going into remission.

"It's basically an unheard of response rate to be that high and our hope is that we'll be able to treat more common cancers like breast, prostate, and lung cancer."

It's hard to outsmart cancer.

"Cancer is very intelligent and knows how to hide from the body's immune system."

It’s even more difficult to stay one step ahead of it as it changes, trying to outsmart us.

"That's the thing about cancer is it often becomes resistant and mutates with time."

Right now, this kind of treatment isn't widely available as they are still testing it.

"Right now, only a handful of patients have been treated, mainly in Seattle," said Dr. Robertson.

However, it is something to keep an eye on.

"Hopefully more patients will be able to be treated but right now it's a very labor intensive, expensive process and they're selecting patients very carefully," he said.  "We've had a lot of base hits in the management of cancer.  I don't know that we're yet at a homerun but we keep getting closer and closer."
 
While this specific T-Cell treatment isn't offered as a trial in our area just yet, Memorial Health is offering a number of clinical trials showing promise, like the treatment President Jimmy Carter recently had to treat his metastatic melanoma in his brain and liver.
 
To learn more about Memorial’s clinical trials, click here.

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