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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old August 16 2011, 06:05 AM   #1
TorontoTrekker
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Leukemia cure found?

I'm kind of surprised that this hasn't been front-page news everywhere:

In the research published Wednesday, doctors at the University of Pennsylvania say the treatment made the most common type of leukemia completely disappear in two of the patients and reduced it by 70 percent in the third. In each of the patients as much as five pounds of cancerous tissue completely melted away in a few weeks, and a year later it is still gone.
Linky

Do we have anyone here who's sufficiently well-versed in oncology to express an opinion on how likely this is to be a full-fledged cure, and whether it might be possible to apply the same technique to cure other forms of cancer?
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Old August 16 2011, 06:19 AM   #2
Yminale
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

TorontoTrekker wrote: View Post
Do we have anyone here who's sufficiently well-versed in oncology to express an opinion on how likely this is to be a full-fledged cure, and whether it might be possible to apply the same technique to cure other forms of cancer?
Wow that's amazing. Still it's not a "cure" only a treatment option for only one specific form of leukemia. There are two possible problems. In the near term, the treatment seems to suppress the immune system so people may be more prone to infection. The long term consequence could be severe (lymphoma another form of cancer and/or autoimmunity).

These results are PRELIMINARY and we still need to run several human trials before we know it's effective.
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Old August 16 2011, 06:29 AM   #3
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

As for your second question: Could we use this on other cancer. The answer is maybe. Some cancer cells have special markers we can use to identify them. If you knew that marker you could in theory use this treatment. I see this treatment as maybe a replacement for chemotherapy or as a supplement. In theory this could lead to a new form of vaccination for not just cancer but also for infectious disease especially viral diseases.
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Old August 16 2011, 07:57 AM   #4
Ar-Pharazon
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

Yminale wrote: View Post
TorontoTrekker wrote: View Post
Do we have anyone here who's sufficiently well-versed in oncology to express an opinion on how likely this is to be a full-fledged cure, and whether it might be possible to apply the same technique to cure other forms of cancer?
Wow that's amazing. Still it's not a "cure" only a treatment option for only one specific form of leukemia. There are two possible problems. In the near term, the treatment seems to suppress the immune system so people may be more prone to infection. The long term consequence could be severe (lymphoma another form of cancer and/or autoimmunity).

These results are PRELIMINARY and we still need to run several human trials before we know it's effective.
Chemo & radiation do the same thing to the immune system, don't they?

I know in my mom's case, the chemo did a number on her immune system.
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Old August 16 2011, 04:22 PM   #5
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

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Old August 16 2011, 04:33 PM   #6
Robert Maxwell
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

This kind of genetic modification to attack disease is incredible. I'm curious to see where it goes in the future. Attacking cancer definitely seems like a good place to start, though. I can appreciate the irony of reworking HIV to do something positive, too.
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Old August 16 2011, 05:09 PM   #7
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

And if everything works out like planned, that modified virus is going to kill everyone on December 21st, 2012.
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Old August 16 2011, 05:43 PM   #8
bigdaddy
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

Lemon verbena helps kill cancer sets too. For some reason none of this is ever talked about.
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Old August 16 2011, 08:45 PM   #9
Ayelbourne
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

T-Cell-Virus-induced Zombieapocalypse in 3...2...1...

Kidding.

Great News! Here's to hoping this could be the breakthrough everyone has been waiting for.
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Old August 16 2011, 11:39 PM   #10
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

Wow, what timing! My brother in law was recently diagnosed with leukemia - not sure what type, but his mother had it for many years and ended up dying from something else, so he's not even in treatment (yet) - I'll forward that link to my sis. Thanks!
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Old August 17 2011, 12:29 AM   #11
Yminale
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

Ar-Pharazon wrote: View Post
Chemo & radiation do the same thing to the immune system, don't they?

I know in my mom's case, the chemo did a number on her immune system.
Chemo and radiation are basically designed to kill fast growing cells like cancer (hopefully) but also hair (hence the baldness) and the cells in your gut (hence the nausea and vomiting)
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Old August 17 2011, 12:30 AM   #12
Yminale
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
Wow, what timing! My brother in law was recently diagnosed with leukemia - not sure what type, but his mother had it for many years and ended up dying from something else, so he's not even in treatment (yet) - I'll forward that link to my sis. Thanks!
I would be careful since this treatment won't be available for years and may have serious side effects.
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Old August 17 2011, 12:40 AM   #13
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

Yminale wrote: View Post
As for your second question: Could we use this on other cancer. The answer is maybe. Some cancer cells have special markers we can use to identify them. If you knew that marker you could in theory use this treatment. I see this treatment as maybe a replacement for chemotherapy or as a supplement. In theory this could lead to a new form of vaccination for not just cancer but also for infectious disease especially viral diseases.
From looking over the NEJM article, it seems what they did was target the immune system to kill all the cells expressing a B cell-specific protein. It targeted B cells, whether cancerous or not. For the duration of the treatment and for at least 6 months afterward, the patients were devoid of B cells. That causes some problems, but is certainly better than terminal leukemia. You can live without B cells for a while as long as you have antibiotics to assist your immune system. Now we get to applying it to other cancers. This approach is fine if the cancer is of a cell type you can get along without for a while. It might work rather well for breast cancer or prostate cancer with fairly minor side effects. It might work fine for melanoma with the side effect of turning the patient into an albino possibly making them deaf (there are melanocytes in the ear that are critical for the function of the cochlea), and possibly vision problems such as sensitivity to light. It might be fatal to use this approach for neural cancers or lung cancer or cancer of any other tissue you can't get along without.

Now, this approach might work very well for any cancer with only minor side effects if the doctor can find some antigen specifically expressed only on the cancer cells and tailor the treatment to attacking that antigen. This would be rather difficult, however, and would require custom designing the treatment for each individual. It could also take a fairly long time to find the antigen and then design the reagents required for the treatment. In some cases an appropriate target may not exist or may not be found. It would certainly be very expensive.
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Old August 17 2011, 01:02 AM   #14
Yminale
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

farmkid wrote: View Post
You can live without B cells for a while as long as you have antibiotics to assist your immune system.
Yes and no. There are a host of exotic diseases that these patients MAY be vulnerable to that are antibiotic resistent. The biggest one is MRSA.


It might work rather well for breast cancer or prostate cancer with fairly minor side effects. It might work fine for melanoma with the side effect of turning the patient into an albino possibly making them deaf (there are melanocytes in the ear that are critical for the function of the cochlea), and possibly vision problems such as sensitivity to light. It might be fatal to use this approach for neural cancers or lung cancer or cancer of any other tissue you can't get along without.
I think this treatment would most benefit patients with metastatic cancer. Breast and Prostrate are low priority since detection rates are high and tradition treatments and the new antibody based treatments are so effective. I think we could use it in conjunction with metastatic lung cancer if we use the treatment then chemotherapy followed by a lung transplant.

I think the big winner is pancreatic cancer which has a high chance of metastasis once detected.

In some cases an appropriate target may not exist or may not be found. It would certainly be very expensive.
Have you read about the news about the JAK cell receptor? That could be the universal target scientist have been looking for cancer.
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Old August 17 2011, 07:43 AM   #15
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Re: Leukemia cure found?

Ayelbourne wrote: View Post
T-Cell-Virus-induced Zombieapocalypse in 3...2...1...

Kidding.
Are you sure you're kidding?
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