A Novel treatment gives complete remission to patients with blood cancer
Here’s a piece of good news for people who are afraid of Multiple Myeloma – the second most common blood cancer type after leukemia.
Trial treatment in Spain gives complete remission to patients with multiple myeloma.
Myeloma is incurable cancer found in the bone marrow, which normally creates red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
Myeloma leads to abnormal development of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that produces antibodies.
These antibodies are the first line of defense against infections.
Cancerous plasma cells will multiply over time.
Slowly, this cancer can damage, such as bones, kidneys, immune system of the body, etc and lead to death.
But now, Barcelona’s Clinical Hospital announced that a patient called Joan Gel is now in complete remission from multiple myeloma.
Gel was diagnosed with multiple myeloma before twelve years and he tried all available treatment methods like chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant.
But everything failed.
Then, a year and a half ago, Barcelona’s Clinical Hospital presented to him an opportunity to test their new treatment method called ARI-0002h.
ARI-0002h belongs to the field of modern treatment known as CAR-T or Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells.
Treatments of this type have become the hope for many tumors, ranging from certain lymphomas to leukemia.
He nodded and agreed because he had no choice other than to surrender to the disease.
After his therapy, hematologist Carlos Fernández de Larrea announced that Gel is in “complete remission” along with other 18 patients who participated in this experimental therapy.
18 out of 30 patients got complete remission from multiple myeloma and showed no evidence of the disease.
This shows a complete remission rate of 60% (18 out of 30 participants) and 75% of patients showed no progression of the disease.
A complete remission does not mean cured, but it does mean that all signs of the illness have been removed.
“Even though it is an incurable disease, achieving complete remission has a significant impact on patient prognosis.
It is directly linked to greater survival,” said hematologist, Fernández de Larrea.
According to Fernández de Larrea,
Complete remission is more likely to happen in the earlier attempts, for instance with a bone marrow transplant.
After that, the probability of achieving remission becomes very low.
“They finished defrosting it in the room, in a bain-marie with nice hot water. It’s kind of like cooking,” Joan Gel recalls about the treatment he had.
In Joan Gel’s case, ARI-0002h was his fifth and most desperate attempt to fight against his cancer.
They extracted T cells (A type of white blood cells) from the patient’s blood and redesigned them in the lab through genetic engineering.
This makes them easily able to recognize cancer cells.
The ARI-0002h treatment method is much cheaper than other treatment methods, which cost an estimated €90,000 ($102,000).
“I want to underscore how lucky we are to have a public healthcare system of this caliber. We should be aware of that and pressure those with the ability to fund this healthcare and keep it in the front lines, where it should be,”
said Joan Gel at a news conference.
Several cancer researchers in Spain have praised the project.
Joaquín Martínez, head of the hematological tumor research unit at Madrid’s 12 de Octubre hospital said,
“The results are similar to other CAR-T [treatments] against multiple myeloma being developed by the pharmaceutical industry, with the difference that this is an academic and local development of therapies that are quite expensive and very complex.”
“It has great merit” he added.
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