A 52 year old Oregon man with advanced skin cancer survived, thanks to a new experimental treatment, which uses the body’s immune system T cells to fight the cancer.
In the new experimental treatment, conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre at Seattle, the patient, whose melanoma had already spread to a lymph node in his groin and a lung, went into complete remission after being infused with his own fortified immune system T cells.
Though this is the first time that only a patients cloned T cells have succeeded in putting advanced cancer into complete remission, doctors feel immunotherapy holds the promise of being much less toxic.
"Obviously there's a lot of promise for immunotherapy of this kind but I think that we're several years away from making this any kind of standard therapy," said Dr. Cassian Yee, study senior author and associate member at Hutchinson’s clinical research division.
Melanoma or skin cancer is caused when to protect body from ultraviolet radiation found in sunlight, skin cells make pigments and cause the skin to tan. Radiation overload and damage to the cells causes mutations and cancer. Detected in time, melanoma can be easily treated by surgically removing the effected skin patch, once it spreads, nothing works. About 62,000 cases of Melanoma are diagnosed each year in the US, out of which there are about 8000 melanoma deaths.
Dr. Darrell Rigel, a dermatology researcher at the New York University Cancer Institute, New York, had no role in the research but feels that “Immunotherapy has become the most promising approach”.