The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has reported the success of a novel immunotherapy that uses modified HIV to alter the DNA of T-Cells in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Scientist removed the portions of the HIV genome that "make us sick," and inserted a gene for a unique protein, termed a "chimeric antigen receptor" or CAR, that allows T-Cells to interact immunologically with B-Cells – cells which usually fly under the immune radar. In ALL, B-Cells are cancerous, and so this new interaction allows the modified CTL019 cells to bind to and destroy the cancer. CTL019 have been found to survive long enough within a human body to eradicate most, if not all, of the cancer by the end of treatment. 90 percent of all patients treated in this study achieved complete remission.
The FDA has designated this development as a Breakthrough Therapy, and as such, further research on the medication will be expedited until it reaches full clinical approval. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia now runs a site, found here, dedicated to public information about future studies on CTL019, and allowing patients interested in enrollment an opportunity to apply to do so.