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Study Reveals Disabled HIV Virus Fights Against Cancer

Leukemia and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) have been known as two of the most detrimental health conditions in society for decades. But, one case at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is providing cancer patients a new source of hope through the integration of a disabled form of the HIV virus in patients. This new method, called the CT019 therapy, has become a successful treatment for several sufferers of leukemia.

Emily Whitehead remission after CT019 treatment

Emily Whitehead, 7, is in remission after recently receiving the CT019 therapy for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The HIV virus is a new, unorthodox endeavor for researchers and medical professionals alike.

What is CT019 Therapy?

Experimental CT019 therapy begins as a process of removing white blood cells called T-cells from the patient. These T-cells generally work as part of the immune system in fighting illnesses and in this case  are modified to specifically fight against cancerous cells. Disabled HIV cells are not injected into the patient, but rather bioengineered with the altered T-cells. Since HIV cells typically respond in the body by relaying genetic material in the body to the T-cells, through the therapy the HIV cells can target cancerous cells. These powerful cancer killing cells are then reestablished in the patients immune systems where they can protect the patient and rid them of cancerous cells.

Does CT019 Therapy Work?

The CT019 therapy is being implemented in cancer centers across the United States, and so far, results are outstanding! At The Children’s Hospital of Philidelpiha, 7 year old Emily “Emma” Whitehead received the CT019 treatment for her acute lymphoblastic leukemia or ALL. About 3 weeks after undergoing the procedure, bone marrow examinations revealed that she had, in fact, achieved remission. However, the improvement did come with more intense side effects such as extreme decreases in blood pressure and high fevers. According to doctors, this is actually a sign that CT019 is properly working to remove the cancer. In the meantime, certain rheumatoid arthritis treatments have been found to maintain the immune system during these reactions.

The Future and CT019

Although the CT019 therapies have been greatly successful, experts are hesitant to call it a “cure”. Yes, the treatment has exemplified achievement of remission in the short run, but time will be the true test for CT019. As for now, professionals are turning to similar cell modification treatments within the immune system for other cancers such as breast cancer or prostate tumors related to cancer.

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