Florida woman beats terminal breast cancer with new therapy

ACT immunotherapy cures terminal breast cancer patient

ACT immunotherapy cures terminal breast cancer patient

Local researchers believe this could change the course of treatment for tens of thousands of breast cancer patients a year.

A Florida woman given only three months to live says that she managed to win the battle against cancer with the help of experimental treatment. Perkins was 49 years old when they found that the tumor in her right breast had spread to the rest of her body. A recent research published in The New England Journal of Medicine, that was supported by US' National Cancer Institute, has validated that women falling in the 11-25 score group are also at low risk for recurrence and may not need chemotherapy.

But nothing was working until she joined a trial at the National Cancer Institute, where researchers thought they could tap into Judy's own immune system to fight her cancer. "I had a bucket-list of things I needed to do before the end, like going to the Grand Canyon".

"About a week after [the therapy] I started to feel something, I had a tumor in my chest that I could feel shrinking", Perkins told the BBC. In the test after 42 weeks of treatment, Judy was completely free from the cancerous cells. The tests analyze the tumors in search for 21 genes that are associated with a high risk of recurrence. They found 197 mutations, all in all, 196 of which are unique to Perkins herself. After that, the scientists took the immune cells from Judy's body known as TILs (tumor infiltrating lymphocytes). There, they ganged up to attack cancer cells.

In a lab, Rosenberg's team grew those few immune cells into billions, then injected them into Perkins' bloodstream. The outcome was nothing short of miraculous.

"I'm retired a year and a half, and I love it", says Linda Kropp, smiling. She remains so up to now.

"Immunotherapy is here to stay for the vast majority of non-small-cell lung cancer patients as a first-line treatment". There are still times when chemotherapy is appropriate for patients with Stage 1 breast cancer and each patient's specific case should be reviewed by a medical oncologist.

Before the study was released, did every breast cancer patient need chemotherapy?

It's hard to find a person who hasn't been affected by cancer in some way, and for those of us who have had the sickness or lost someone to the sickness, it seems that cancer research and treatment moves at a slower-than-molasses pace.

ACT has been shown to be effective in treating tumours with a high level of mutations such as melanoma, but has been less successful when tested in cancers with a lesser mutation load, such as stomach, oesophageal, ovarian, and breast cancers.

The patient with advanced colon cancer whom Rosenberg's team treated in 2015 is Celine Ryan of MI.

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, some foundations and proceeds from the USA breast cancer postage stamp.

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