PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Researchers at the National Cancer Institute have put a patient with metastatic breast cancer into complete remission by using a new approach to immunotherapy.
They sequenced the DNA of Judy Perkins’ tumor to find which mutations were unique to the cancer.
A tiny percentage of immune cells programmed to recognize those mutations, were grown and injected back into the her bloodstream.
“You take a patient’s own cells, you attack their own cancer with their own cells and you attack a unique mutation that’s present in their cancer and none others,” explained Dr. Steven Rosenberg of the National Cancer Institute.
Perkins, 52, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 but ten years later it came back.
Chemo and hormone therapy didn’t work but this one-time treatment with more personalized immunotherapy did work for Perkins.
“It was quite a relief to see that, you know, it wasn’t coming back. It was all gone,” she said.
While much more study is needed, researchers say because all cancers have mutations, this approach could potentially be used to treat many different types of cancer.
In addition, a recent study says chemo does not improve survival, that most women can be safely treated with just surgery and hormone blockers. This will impact about 70,000 patients a year.