A new form of immunotherapy is being called a milestone in cancer treatment. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation have been the standard treatments for cancer. Now, doctors are turning more and more to a therapy that boosts the patient's own response to the disease.
Jeffrey Backer didn't think he'd be taking a swing ever again. "I never really expected to be here today," he said.
Cancer was taking over his body. He tried chemotherapy, and even a stem cell transplant.
He said, "The secret to being a successful cancer survivor is just stay alive long enough until technology catches up to your disease."
Jeffrey is hopeful that has now happened. A new form of immunotherapy called CAR T therapy is designed to turn the immune system's T cells into fighters.
Frederick Locke, M.D., an oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, detailed, "It's pretty amazing to see patients go into remission that we really had low hope of standard therapies working."
Dr. Frederick Locke said the T cells are removed from the patient and sent to a lab, then they're reprogrammed so they can detect and kill cancer cells. Those new T cells are later infused back into the patient. "They activate for a fight and they kill the target cells, the cancer cells in this case," explained Dr. Locke.
Jeffrey said the CAR T therapy was tough, "But in the back of my mind I knew the outcome was going to be good." Signs of the disease starting disappearing within a week. Now he's in complete remission. "A lot of people die waiting for this opportunity," Jeffrey said.
However, researchers say this therapy is keeping more patients headed in the right direction. This new immunotherapy is being tested on patients like Jeffrey with aggressive diffused large B Cell Lymphoma. This is one of the most common malignancies.