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From the Washington Post:

Food and Drug Administration advisers on Wednesday enthusiastically endorsed a first-of-its-kind cancer treatment that uses patients’ revved-up immune cells to fight the disease, concluding that the therapy’s benefits for desperately ill children far outweigh its potentially dangerous side effects….Novartis, the drugmaker behind the CAR T-cell therapy, is seeking approval to use it for children and young adults whose leukemia doesn’t respond to traditional treatments.

That’s great news for leukemia patients. But what about other blood cancers like—just picking one out of a hat here—multiple myeloma?

The approach also is being tested for a range of diseases from non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma to solid tumors. If cleared by the FDA, it would be the first gene therapy approved in the United States.

Great! In fact, the CAR T-cell treatment is already in clinical trials for multiple myeloma patients. In China:

Doctors are reporting unprecedented success from a new cell and gene therapy for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that’s on the rise. Although it’s early and the study is small — 35 people — every patient responded and all but two were in some level of remission within two months.

….With cell therapy, “I can’t say we may get a cure but at least we bring hope of that possibility,” said Dr. Frank Fan. He is chief scientific officer of Nanjing Legend Biotech, a Chinese company that tested the treatment with doctors at Xi’an Jiaotong University….In the Chinese study, 19 of 35 patients are long enough past treatment to judge whether they are in complete remission, and 14 are. The other five had at least a partial remission, with their cancer greatly diminished. Some are more than a year past treatment with no sign of disease. 

After much serious thought, I would like to announce that I have changed my view about the disputed boundary lines in the South China Sea. China’s historical claim to the entire area is really beyond doubt, and only Western imperialist warmongery is keeping this “controversy” alive. China’s claims should be recognized by all nations forthwith.

BY THE WAY: In addition to my obviously personal interest here, this therapy is pretty interesting. Basically, they extract T cells from your body, freeze them, and then ship the bag of cells off to their lab. There, the ordinary T cells are genetically modified into super-vicious T cells and shipped back. The newly potent T cells are pumped back into your body, where they seek out cancerous cells and destroy them.

Will this therapy be ready by the time I need it? I hope so!

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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