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Researchers find leukemia cure

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Doctors in New York said they may have found a cure for a deadly type of cancer. In a study published Wednesday, doctors said they were able to genetically alter the patient's own immune cells to fight the a deadly form of leukemia.

This revolutionary treatment stems from a very simple idea. Our bodies have their own ability to fight disease, it's called our immune system. However, it hasn't been strong enough to win the fight against cancer, that is until now.
"The changes with medical treatment have been extraordinary," said Paula Kennedy, the president and CEO of Gilda's Club.

It's difficult to treat acute Leukemia in adults, the survival rate is only 40 percent.

"I have several patients that have gone through gauntlets of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants but what this trial does is maybe one day we could avoid bone marrow transplants and potentially cure the patient," said oncologist Dr. Henry Tsai at Eisenhower Medical Center.

The clinical trial focused five patients for whom chemotherapy failed. Doctors used a virus to inject genetic material into a their own white blood cells.

"By doing that, we are able to genetically engineer so that our cells start to recognize leukemia cells," said Tsai.

Those cells then attacked and destroyed all the cancer.

"It's almost like sending your soldiers for quick lessons on how to find the enemy and put them back to work," said Tsai.

All five patients in the study went into remission. Doctors said one became completely cancer free after just 8 days.

"All of these technologies are allowing us to have all of the new results the amazing results that I couldn't even imagine maybe five years ago," said Tsai.

It's exciting news especially for people at Glida's Club, a cancer support center in the desert.

"If this is any opportunity to help these people in their survivorship we were delighted," said Kennedy.

When will we see this cutting edge technology in the desert? While there is still a lot more research to be done, it's not as far off as you might think.

"Because this is relatively revolutionary hopefully the regulation bodies could make it a fast pace, so I'm hoping maybe within a year or two it could be more of a standard treatment, but it is still in an early phase," said Tsai.

"Yes, there is a cost, yes it takes time, research takes time but, we are able to see the benefit of so many of the things they've worked on over the past 20 years," said Kennedy.

The therapy is right now only available through clinical trials. Dr. Henry Tsai said talk to your oncologist for treatment options.

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