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Genetically Modified Cells Sound Scary, But They Just Saved Two Babies From Cancer

JANUARY 30, 2017  —  By Corinne Sanders

No matter who you are, where you come from, or what you believe in, I think we can all agree that cancer sucks.

The terrible disease affects countless people and families across the globe, and the worst part is that it doesn't have a cure -- but these groundbreaking study results may change all that.

A team of European researchers recently reported in the Science Translational Medicine journal that their trial involving gene-editing therapy has eliminated previously incurable forms of leukemia in two infant girls. What's even more incredible is that the children have remained in remission 12 and 18 months after their treatments.

Working at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in England and at Cellectis, a French biotech firm, the team collected blood from donors and genetically engineered their white blood cells -- called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells -- to attack cancer cells in the two patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia.

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While this transplantation has been attempted before, the scientists took cells from healthy donors instead of patients undergoing cancer treatments. It was definitely a success, as they stated that "molecular remissions were achieved within 28 days in both infants."

One of the girls did have a negative reaction in her immune system two months after receiving the donor cells, but she's doing better after getting steroid treatments and a bone marrow transplant.

The study does state that "these therapeutic cells have to be custom-made for each patient, and this is not always feasible, especially for patients who do not have sufficient healthy T-cells," but there's no doubt that their success is very promising for future cancer treatments.

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Here's hoping that this method works on other cancer patients in the future. Be sure to SHARE this amazing news with everyone you know!

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