Ambitious new cancer treatment uses a modified HIV virus

A promising new treatment for blood cancers uses a disabled form of HIV-1 to seek out and kill cancer cells. If the treatment holds up under further study, it could revolutionize how cancer is treated.

The treatment uses a version of the HIV virus that's gutted of all damaging elements but keeps the characteristics that seek out T-cells. It then carries cancer-fighting genes to those T-cells, turning them immediately into cancer-fighting machines.

One patient, 65-year-old William Ludwig, was given the treatment as he had few options left with his leukemia. But once given an injection of the modified T-cells, his cancer was virtually completely gone within a couple of weeks. A year later, he's still in complete remission, according to The New York Times:

A year later, Mr. Ludwig is still in complete remission. Before, there were days when he could barely get out of bed; now, he plays golf and does yard work… Mr. Ludwig's doctors have not claimed that he is cured — it is too soon to tell — nor have they declared victory over leukemia on the basis of this experiment, which involved only three patients. The research, they say, has far to go; the treatment is still experimental, not available outside of studies.

Obviously, many more trials need to be done with this treatment, as it's still at an early stage. But it certainly sounds promising.

Via NY Times

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