World first

Baby girl cancer free after being first in the world treated with “designer immune cells”

A one-year-old girl in London, Layla Richards, who was given only a month to live after all conventional methods had failed to fight off her aggressive leukemia, is now cancer free and doing well after becoming the first in the world to be treated with “designer immune cells” that were genetically engineered to wipe out her cancer. While a doctor described it as almost a miracle, specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London who treated the girl warned that it could take more than a year before they knew whether the treatment was able to cure her disease, or simply delay its progression. So while it’s too early to claim that this could be a suitable treatment for other children,  Waseem Qasim, a professor of cell and gene therapy, said it “is a landmark in the use of new gene engineering technology and the effects for this child have been staggering.”

The hospital had been working on the experimental treatment, but it had only been tested on mice, so they needed approval from an emergency ethics committee and parental consent to try out the new treatment on the terminally ill girl.  “It was scary to think that the treatment had never been used in a human before, but even with the risks there was no doubt that we wanted to try the treatment. She was sick and in lots of pain, so we had to do something,” her father Ashleigh said.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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