Modifying a child’s immune system to fight off leukemia can yield dramatic results, find but the treatments are dangerous and no one knows if they’re permanent.
The first time a child gets acute lymphoblastic leukemia it’s worrying, healing as any cancer would be, but generally curable. If it comes back, a bone marrow transplant could still wipe it out. If it comes back again, it is often a death sentence.
Or at least it was, until an experimental treatment that genetically enhances a patient’s immune system, known as CAR-T, came along. Only tested in humans in the last few years, the results have been astonishing, knocking out almost overnight a cancer that defied all other treatments. Early tests showed that 90 percent of patients went into remission.
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