In girl's last hope, her own cells beat back leukemia
PHILIPSBURG, Pa. — Emma Whitehead has been bounding around the house lately, practicing somersaults and rugby-style tumbles that make her parents wince.
It is hard to believe, but last spring Emma, then 6, was near death from leukemia. She had relapsed twice after chemotherapy, and doctors had run out of options.
Desperate to save her, her parents sought an experimental treatment at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, one that had never before been tried in a child, or in anyone with the type of leukemia Emma had. The experiment, in April, used a disabled form of the AIDS virus to reprogram Emma's immune system genetically to kill cancer cells.
The treatment very nearly killed her. But she emerged from it cancer-free, and seven months later is still in complete remission. She is the first child and one of the first humans ever in whom new techniques have achieved a long-sought goal — giving a patient's own immune system the lasting ability to fight cancer.
That is a jaw dropping article to read. I hope they will continue to receive funding to do more studies. If they can figure out why it works and treat more with a high success rate it would be fantastic.