That resulted in armies of "serial killer" cells that targeted cancer cells, destroyed them, and went on to kill new cancer as it emerged. For the experiment, blood was taken from each patient and T-cells removed. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania engineered patients' own pathogen-fighting T-cells to target a molecule found on the surface of leukemia cells.
In a potential breakthrough in cancer research, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have genetically engineered patients' T cells — a type of white blood cell — to attack cancer cells in advanced cases of a common type of leukemia.
To build the cancer-attacking cells, the researchers modified a virus to carry instructions for making a molecule that binds with leukemia cells and directs T cells to kill them. On average, the team calculated, each engineered T cell eradicated at least 1,000 cancer cells.
Side effects included loss of normal B cells, another type of white blood cell, which are also attacked by the modified T cells, and tumor lysis syndrome, a complication caused by the breakdown of cancer cells.