Behind The Latest Breast Cancer Research

Behind The Latest Breast Cancer Research

Judy Perkins, a retired engineer of Port St. Lucie, has been cancer-free for two years since her treatment began.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) examined over 10,000 breast cancer patients and found that women who were treated with an estrogen-blocking hormone therapy had a almost identical survival rate to women treated with chemo and hormone therapy.

This is a milestone achieved, as the case is first of its kind that the patient with advanced stage breast cancer has been successfully cured with an immunotherapy which uses the immune cells of the patient's body to look for and eliminate the cancerous cells which are present in the body. Sources said AIIMS was in talks with the company that owned the patent for Oncotype DX to allow it to acquire the technology at a cheaper rate so patients could benefit.

For example, another study at the conference found that Merck's immunotherapy drug Keytruda worked better than chemo as initial treatment for most people with the most common type of lung cancer, and with far fewer side effects.

The doctors multiplied these T cells in the laboratory, generating as many as 80 billion new cells that were then injected back into Perkins's system.

Perkins remains cancer-free two and half years later.

The National Cancer Institute sponsored the study, along with several foundations. "The very mutations causing the cancer will be the Achilles' heel". A decade later, she learned cancer had spread to other parts of her body; she underwent multiple treatments, all of which ultimately failed.

The treatment is a modified form of adoptive cell transfer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in the USA and worldwide.

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Rosenberg studied Perkins' immune cells, finding those white blood cells capable of detecting genetic mutations and fighting cancer.

Next, they took immune cells known as tumor infiltrating lymphocytes or T cells from the tumor tissue. The doctors had given Judy three months to live.

The result of the previously untested therapy has changed her life.

As the Florida woman recalls, soon after she received the devasting news, she was approached by Dr. Steven Rosenberg from the National Institutes of Health.

Rosenberg also believes there is early evidence to show that immunotherapy may also be effective for liver and colon cancer.

A SC woman named Janice Satterfield contacted Perkins after reading a post she wrote about the NCI trial. "You want to bring the right amount of treatment to the tumor based on its biology", he said.

Perkins hopes she's cured - a word she is nearly afraid to utter - but knows that the cancer "could come back tomorrow".

67 percent of these women had scored an intermediate risk of recurrence.

"I think it had been maybe 10 days since I'd gotten the cells, and I could already feel that tumor starting to get soft", Perkins told CBS.


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