A breakthrough cancer study in which patients suffering from a form of leukemia saw their diseases go into remission after they were treated with genetically modified T-cells has deep roots in Israel.
One of the first in the world to work on the innovative cancer treatment technique, known as adaptive immunotherapy, was Professor Zelig Eshhar from Weizmann University in Israel. Last Tuesday, this technique was hailed worldwide as a potentially “extraordinary” development. Eshhar did much of the groundwork on this technique; he states, “In our lab, we cured many rats and mice of cancer. I have been saying for years that we could do this in people, as well.”
The journal “Science Translational Medicine” wrote an article stating that a team at the University of Pennsylvania’s Cancer Center had been putting Eshhar’s work to the test. The team reported that 27 out of 29 patients with an advanced blood cancer saw their cancers go into remission - or disappear altogether - when they received the Israeli professors treatment.
According to officials at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where the research was carried out, patients in the trial – some of whom were told in 2013 they had barely a few months to live – not only survived, but now after the therapy, “have no sign of the disease.”
“I felt a great sense of satisfaction upon hearing the news,” said Eshhar. “The next task of my lab and others working on this is to expand it and try to attack other forms of cancer.” He continued with a warning, “Obviously much more work is needed… But studies like these are a great impetus to move forward with research. I believe the day will come when we will see many more cancers treated in this manner.”