Alyssa is the first person in the world to have her leukaemia treated with 'universal' CAR T-cells that had been pre-manufactured from a healthy volunteer donor. AFP
The 13-year-old girl, identified only as Alyssa, was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2021. But her blood cancer did not respond to conventional treatment, including chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
She was enrolled on a clinical trial of a new treatment at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) using genetically engineered immune cells from a healthy volunteer.
In 28 days her cancer was in remission, allowing her to receive a second bone marrow transplant to restore her immune system. Six months on, she is “doing well” back home in Leicester, central England, and receiving follow-up care.
“Without this experimental treatment, Alyssa’s only option was palliative care,” the hospital said in a statement on Sunday.
Robert Chiesa, a GOSH consultant, said her turnaround had been “quite remarkable,” although the results still needed to be monitored and confirmed in the next few months.
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is the most common kind of cancer in children and affects cells in the immune system, known as B cells and T cells, which fight and protect against viruses.
GOSH said Alyssa was the first patient known to have been given base-edited T cells, which involves chemically converting single nucleotide bases - letters of the DNA code — which carry instructions for a specific protein.
Researchers at GOSH and University College London helped develop the use of genome-edited T cells to treat B-cell leukaemia in 2015.
But to treat some other types of leukaemia the team had to overcome the challenge that T cells designed to recognise and attack cancerous cells had ended up killing each other during the manufacturing process.
Multiple additional DNA changes were needed to the base-edited cells to allow them to target cancerous cells without damaging each other.
“This is a great demonstration of how, with expert teams and infrastructure, we can link cutting edge technologies in the lab with real results in the hospital for patients,” said GOSH consultant immunologist and professor Waseem Qasim.
“It’s our most sophisticated cell engineering so far and paves the way for other new treatments and ultimately better futures for sick children.”
Alyssa said in the statement she was spurred to take part in the trial not just for herself but for other children. Her mother, Kiona, added: “Hopefully this can prove the research works and they can offer it to more children.”
The researchers were presenting their findings this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.
Dr Omar Atiq, who founded a cancer clinic in 1991 in Pine Bluff in the US state of Arkansas, sent out a notice to his patients just days before Dec.25 saying "the clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients,” according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and the fourth most common overall, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), but its relationship to obesity remains unclear.
"The double whammy is serious, but fixable, and I'm hoping for a favourable outcome," she said. "It's going to stink for a while, but I'll fight with all I have got." Navratilova noticed an enlarged lymph node in her neck during November's WTA Finals in Fort Worth.
Cruising on an empty Bangkok highway, 63-year-old Nongluck Chairuettichai -- the oldest member of Thailand's longboard national team -- says taking up the sport set her on the road to recovery from breast cancer.
After they sat down to eat the food they had brought, the bear showed up and gulped down french fries, enchiladas, tacos and salsa.
Surgery is usually a last resort to fix the problem. Neurosurgeon explains new technology and techniques have improved the safety and recovery time for patients.
Sunglasses, aviation hats and natural leather belts completed the looks, which came mostly in autumn tones of beige, olive, purple and a rusty brown.