Doctors removed a billion of his T-cells — a type of white blood cell that fights viruses and tumors — and gave them new genes that would program the cells to attack his cancer. Then the altered cells were dripped back into Mr. Ludwig’s veins.
At first, nothing happened. But after 10 days, hell broke loose in his hospital room. He began shaking with chills. His temperature shot up. His blood pressure shot down. He became so ill that doctors moved him into intensive care and warned that he might die. His family gathered at the hospital, fearing the worst.
A few weeks later, the fevers were gone. And so was the leukemia.
Another patient had a complete remission, and the third had a partial remission. What is surprising about the experimental treatment is that it uses diabled HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS, to carry the new cancer-fighting genes to the patient's T-cells.
The University of Pennsylvania team seems to have hit all the targets at once. Inside the patients, the T-cells modified by the researchers multiplied to 1,000 to 10,000 times the number infused, wiped out the cancer and then gradually diminished, leaving a population of “memory” cells that can quickly proliferate again if needed.
The researchers remain cautious, because so few patients have been given the treatment, and because the therapy itself can be dangerous. But Mr. Ludwig has gained 40 pounds and a playing golf again. Read how they did it at the New York Times. Link -via Metafilter