immunotherapy


Seattle is becoming a global center for some pioneering cancer research that uses the body’s own immune system to destroy cancer.  It’s called immunotherapy.

More specifically, Dr Mike Jensen and his team at Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research are working on chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy.  According to the American Cancer Society, 'this is a promising new way to get immune cells called T cells to fight cancer. For this technique, T cells are removed from the patient’s blood and genetically altered in the lab to have specific antigen receptors (called chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs) on their surface. These receptors will attach to proteins on the surface of cancer cells. The T cells are then multiplied in the lab and infused back into the patient’s blood, where they can now seek out the cancer cells and launch a precise immune attack against them.' Of course, we appreciate the way Dr Jensen explains it in terms we can all relate to.  He likens what he does to downloading an app for your iphone.  At the Jensen Lab, they reprogram a patient's T cells with an 'app' to attack cancer cells which would otherwise multiply unchecked.  Armed with this cutting edge 'technology', the patient's immune system fights cancer, just as it so effectively fights off other diseases and viruses.  What's more, this cancer fighting app works without resorting to chemotherapy or radiation - or it's debilitating side effects. Cancer.  There are some very smart people working to bring the world an app for that!