Monday, July 24, 2017

NY Times: The Race to Create 'Transformative' Cellular Treatments for Cancer

Cellular treatments of cancer received a big media boost this morning with a front page story in the New York Times that said the door is opening on a radical new class of therapy.

The headline on the piece in the print version of the Times in California said,
"Racing to Alter Patients' Cells to Kill Cancer"
The article by Denise Grady was also high on the Internet home page this morning of the Times.

The peg for the lengthy story was the expected approval of gene therapy for leukemia in the next few months. Grady wrote,
"Companies and universities are racing to develop these new therapies, which re-engineer and turbocharge millions of a patient’s own immune cells, turning them into cancer killers that researchers call a 'living drug.' One of the big goals now is to get them to work for many other cancers, including those of the breast, prostate, ovary, lung and pancreas. 
"'This has been utterly transformative in blood cancers,' said Dr. Stephan Grupp, director of the cancer immunotherapy program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania and a leader of major studies. 'If it can start to work in solid tumors, it will be utterly transformative for the whole field.;'"
High in the story (the fifth paragraph), Grady mentioned that cellular treatments are also being studied in connection with glioblastoma, the type of brain cancer afflicting Sen. John McCain

The Times carried a host of caveats about the likely new therapy, its dangers and even deaths that have occurred during the research. But "studies are forging ahead," Grady reported, despite the fact that they are expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

The article did not mention the research that has been financed by California stem cell agency, which has pumped $90 million into developing cellular-connected treatments for cancer. The California Stem Cell Report wrote about that effort last week and filed a freelance story on the subject for The Sacramento Bee. 

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