Docs use HIV to beat leukemia in kids - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Docs use HIV to beat leukemia in kids

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A medical breakthrough is helping young victims of leukemia.

A treatment that's been successful for adults is also working for an aggressive and common childhood cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

A dozen children were among those to get the experimental procedure. Doctors and researchers are testing a genetically engineered T-cell therapy that uses a manipulated version of HIV to rewire the immune system.

According to Dr. Stephan Grupp of The Children's Hospital of Philadephia, "We collect cells of the immune system from a patient, so we use the patient's own cells. We put in a new gene in those cells that makes the cells go after cancer cells and then we put those cells back in the patient."

Some of the patients saw their cancer wiped out in a couple of weeks and some have been cancer free for more than two years.

Researchers say they hope this new treatment reduces or replaces the need for bone marrow transplants, which come with risks and offer only a limited chance for a cure.

According to doctors, there is no danger of infection from the HIV virus since all of the things that make it able to cause disease are removed from the virus before it is used.

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