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Cloned immune cells cleared patient's cancerIan Sample, science correspondent The Guardian, Thursday June 19 2008 Article historyA patient whose skin cancer had spread throughout his body has been given the all-clear after being injected with billions of his own immune cells.

Tests revealed that the 52-year-old man's tumours, which spread from his skin to his lung and groin, vanished within two months of having the treatment, and had not returned two years later.

Doctors attempted the experimental therapy as part of a clinical trial after the man's cancer failed to respond to conventional treatments.

The man is the first to benefit from the new technique, which uses cloning to produce billions of copies of a patient's immune cells. When they are injected into the body they attack the cancer and force it into remission.

Campaigners and scientists in the UK yesterday welcomed the breakthrough. "It's very exciting to see a cancer patient being successfully treated using immune cells cloned from his own body. While it's always good news when anyone with cancer gets the all-clear, this treatment will need to be tested in large clinical trials to work out how widely it could be used," said Ed Yong at Cancer Research UK.

Peter Johnson, chief clinician at the charity, added: "Although the technique is complex and difficult to use for all but a few patients, the principle that someone's own immune cells can be expanded and made to work in this way is very encouraging."

Cassian Yee at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle extracted immune cells from the patient and found that a small proportion of them, called CD4 T cells, naturally attacked a protein found on nearly three-quarters of the cancer cells. Using cloning techniques, Yee's team replicated these cells until they had more than 5bn of them.

When the cells were injected into the patient they immediately began attacking the cancer. Intriguingly, the patient's immune system gradually began a wider offensive, attacking all the cancer cells in the body, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. Two months later medical scans failed to pick up any signs of cancer in the patient.

The team believes the treatment could be effective in around a quarter of skin cancer patients whose immune systems have cells that are already primed to attack their tumours. "For this patient we were successful, but we would need to confirm the effectiveness of therapy in a larger study," Yee added.

In an accompanying article Louis Weiner, director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Georgetown University, Washington, wrote that Yee's work "underscores the remarkable potential of the immune system to eradicate cancer, even when the disease is widespread".

The case showed that hopes to turn the immune system into a weapon against cancer was becoming a reality, Weiner added. "If the destination is not yet at hand, it is in sight. The endgame has begun."

Using the immune system to fight cancer could be much safer than existing treatments, which often have serious side effects.

About this articleClose This article appeared in the Guardian on Thursday June 19 2008 on p5 of the UK news section. It was last updated at 09:54 on June 19 2008. Printable version Send to a friend Share Clip Contact us larger | smaller ShareClose Digg reddit Google Bookmarks Yahoo! My Web del.icio.us StumbleUpon Newsvine livejournal Facebook BlinkList EmailClose Recipient's email address Your name Add a note (optional)

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Another victory for adult stem cells.

They have cured over one hundred diagnosis.

I have no idea why some still want to use embryonic stem cells by killing babies when all they cause is cancer and have cured nothing.


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Media Cover Up adult Stem Cell Research Success With Misleading Terms

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by William Beckman

LifeNews.com Editor

June 20, 2008

LifeNews.com Note: William Beckman is the executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee. Opinion articles like this one do not necessarily reflect the views of LifeNews.com.

The June 19, 2008 headline reads “US doctors kill skin cancer with cloned T-cells.” Does this suggest that human cloning of embryonic stem cells has been successful in treating skin cancer? Absolutely not!

The details of the New England Journal of Medicine report that generated this news coverage reveal that adult stem cells obtained from the patient were used.

As reported in ScienceDaily, researchers “removed CD4+ T cells, a type of white blood cell, from a 52-year-old man whose Stage 4 melanoma had spread to a groin lymph node and to a lung. T cells specific to targeting the melanoma were then expanded vastly in the laboratory using modifications to existing methods.”

The exciting result was an apparent cure of melanoma for this patient. “Two months later, PET and CT scans revealed no tumors. The patient remained disease free two years later, when he was last checked.”

Can other melanoma patients expect to receive this treatment soon? The reality check came from researcher Cassian Yee, M.D.

“Yee cautioned that these results represent only one patient with a specific type of immune system whose tumor cells expressed a specific antigen. More studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of the experimental T-cell therapy.”

The widely reported introduction for this news story was: “US doctors have for the first time successfully treated a skin cancer patient with cells cloned from his own immune system.” The story included a later reference stating that the treatment “used his own cloned infection-fighting T-cells.”

How many people will immediately think of cloned human beings? That has become a common reference point in the debate over stem cell research since cloning of embryos to obtain stem cells is considered a necessary step by advocates of embryonic stem cell research.

Technically, use of “cloned” in the news report about treating melanoma is accurate. A definition of cloning states, “Cloning is the process of making an identical copy of something. In biology, it collectively refers to processes used to create copies of DNA fragments.”

However, since reporting of this stem cell research success never used the phrase “adult stem cells” -- even though the original cells were taken directly from the patient -- confusion is very likely to occur for many readers, whether that confusion was intended or not.

This news represents an exciting medical breakthrough that will become even more exciting if it can be duplicated by additional studies. This breakthrough was achieved using adult stem cells that were isolated based on specific characteristics and encouraged to duplicate themselves so large numbers of these stem cells could be infused into the patient.

This result again demonstrates that killing embryos (cloned or otherwise) for stem cells is not required to achieve medical breakthroughs.

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