About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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December 10, 2012

More on Penn's T-Cell Therapy

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Posted by Derek

There's more news on the T-cell therapy work that I wrote about here and here. The New York Times has an update, and the news continues to be encouraging. So far about a dozen leukemia patients have been treated, and while not everyone has responded, there have been several dramatic remissions. Considering that every candidate for treatment so far has been at the edge of the grave (advanced resistant disease, multiple chemotherapy failures), there's definitely something here.

This will have to be done patient-by-patient. But leukemia varies patient by patient, too, and effective therapies are probably going to have to get this granular (or more). So be it. The challenges now are to find out how to make the success rates even higher, and how to deliver this sort of treatment to larger numbers of people. Challenge accepted, as they say. . .

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Cancer


1. davesnyd on December 10, 2012 12:54 PM writes...

Interesting comment:

Dr. June said that producing engineered T-cells costs about $20,000 per patient -- far less than the cost of a bone-marrow transplant. Scaling up the procedure should make it even less expensive, he said, but he added, "Our costs do not include any profit margin, facility depreciation costs or other clinical care costs, and other research costs."

Any speculation what the treatment cost might be if it were generally offered?

Any sense of what the long-term ramifications of the treatment might be?

Specifically, will patients be immunocompromised for the rest of their lives?

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2. johnnyboy on December 10, 2012 1:41 PM writes...

This is amazing stuff. Especially since the modified T-cells remain in body long-term, a bit like memory cells. A rare bright hope, in a field that is stagnating on many other fronts.

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3. Imaging guy on December 10, 2012 1:52 PM writes...

I found that New York Times was always over- enthusiastic about new treatments. One or two years ago they were gushing over new melanoma treatment with PLX4032 (Vemurafenib) and kind of claiming it will cure melanoma based on interview with oncologists. What has happened since then? The drug was first rejected by UK NICE and later accepted because the company decided to give discounts. The median overall survival is 3.3 months.
“Melanoma (BRAF V600 mutation positive, unresectable metastatic) - vemurafenib: final appraisal determination document”
What ever you read in NYT about any kind of medical innovations with a bagful of salt.

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4. Imaging guy on December 10, 2012 1:55 PM writes...

What ever you read in NYT about any kind of medical innovations have to be taken with a bagful of salt.

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5. gippgig on December 10, 2012 3:09 PM writes...

It would be interesting and perhaps quite informative to sequence the genomes of these leukemias and compare those that responded to those that didn't.

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6. Matt on December 10, 2012 4:05 PM writes...

@5: gippgig
But is response essentially a function of the immune system (proliferation of the altered T-cells)? I would expect immune system response here to be heavily exo-genomic, so to speak, as it is elsewhere. I agree though, sequencing the leukemia would be interesting, and a good check.

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