Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Dramatically Wiped Out by Reprogrammed Cells

Patchwork receptors target immune cells against cancer.

Heidi Ledford of Nature magazine

  Two weeks after receiving an experimental treatment for his cancer, David Porter’s 65-year-old leukemia patient seemed to take a turn for the worse. Fatigue and fever drove the patient back to hospital, where his temperature surged to more than 39º C and he began to shake, his body racked with nausea and diarrhea.

But rather than being a clinical failure, the patient’s return to hospital heralded the treatment’s success. His symptoms were the dying scream of more than a kilogram of leukemia cells under attack by genetically engineered immune cells called T cells that Porter, an oncologist at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia, and his colleagues had infused two weeks earlier. As the T cells destroyed their targets, the sheer volume of cellular debris temporarily overwhelmed the patient’s body.

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