U.S. Approves First Cancer Treatment Using Blood Cells to Attack Leukemia

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first cancer treatment that genetically alters a patient's blood cells to attack childhood leukemia, the AP reported Wednesday. Novartis Pharmaceutical’s CAR-T cell treatment is one of several new gene therapy studies developing “living drugs” to fight cancers, and is the first of its kind to hit the U.S. market. The treatment is designed for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. A study showed that 83 percent of advanced patients went into remission after undergoing the treatment. Researchers think the turbocharged immune cells can continue to fight the disease for several months or possibly years. “We’re entering a new frontier in medical innovation with the ability to reprogram a patient’s own cells to attack a deadly cancer,” said FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.