‘Miracle’ cancer treatment
08 November 2015, Nirapad News: On the day before her first birthday, Layla’s parents were told that all treatments for her leukaemia had failed and she was going to die. The determination of her family, doctors and a biotechnology company led to her being given an experimental therapy that had previously been tried only in mice.
Now, just months after her family was told her cancer was incurable, Layla is not only alive, but a happy, giggling child with no trace of leukaemia in her body. The “miracle” treatment was a tiny vial filled with genetically engineered immune cells that were designed to kill her cancer. There’s no doubt this is exciting stuff and it raises questions about the future of medicine.
There is already talk of a revolution – of using similar techniques to treat a range of cancers, but also inherited diseases such as sickle cell anaemia. Around the turn of the millennium, over-excited scientists and journalists were proclaiming that gene therapy was going to transform the world. It hasn’t happened, so has the “miracle” really changed anything?
Prof Adrian Thrasher, from Great Ormond Street Hospital, told me: “There was a lot of hype that was unrealistic at the time, the technologies were very new and it’s taken 15-20 years for those technologies to mature”. Online agency