Experimental Cancer Treatment

Published 08/18 2014 11:46AM

Updated 08/18 2014 05:55PM

One person dies of melanoma every hour and one in fifty men and women will be diagnosed with the most deadly type of skin cancer, at some point in their lifetime. Now a new experimental therapy is training the body’s immune system to fight the disease.

Todd Greenlee has been in and out of the hospital since he was diagnosed with stage-4 melanoma last year. “I had a large, almost like tennis ball sized lump underneath my left arm.” He said.

Surgeons removed the lump, but the cancer came back and spread. With no other options, Doctors encouraged Todd to enroll in a new clinical trial.

Dr. Michael Nishimura says T-cells are removed from a patient and genetically modified.  “We actually engineer the cells to make them work better, so that they can target your cancer cells.” He said.

To make room for the new army of T-cells, high doses of chemotherapy are used to wipe out any other T-cells in the body. Next, the new T-cells recognize the cancerous cells and kill them. A fight Greenlee plans to win one step at a time.

“On the CT scans they've seen some spots actually gone. They've also seen spots that have diminished in size.” Todd said.

This is not Todd’s first battle with cancer. He’s survived two brain tumors.  The trial is currently recruiting at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago and is open to patients with metastatic melanoma who have no other options.

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