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Researchers at University of Pennsylvania have been able to come up with a method which uses altered HIV-infected cells to successfully treat leukemia.

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Leukemia, when discovered in later stages, leaves a patient with little hope to recover and survive. And yet, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have been able to use altered HIV-infected cells to successfully treat a seven-year-old girl, a new method of treatment which they call a major breakthrough.


Emma Whitehead, now aged 7, had been a patient of leukemia. She faced a fairly severe form of the condition and brushed with death when she was 6. The usual treatment methods for leukemia failed to improve her condition and doctors eventually decided to give a shot to a new experimental treatment method developed by researchers at University of Pennsylvania.

The experiment involved the use of a disabled form of the very virus which causes AIDS. Cells infected with this virus were used to alter Emma’s immune system and help her body fight against the cancerous cells.

As it turned out, the method was very successful. Emma was able to not only get rid of all the cancerous cells in her body, she has been in remission ever since the treatment, which was performed seven months ago. The new method is considered an extra-ordinary feat and a breakthrough by doctors and researchers alike. That is because it enables the patient to fight the cancerous cells on his own and does it successfully.

In most of the experimental cases, the new method has proved very fruitful. However, in some cases, it has had null or temporary effect. So whereas the research team’s goal of creating an actual cure out of their new method is far from over, cases such as Emma’s lend hope that it may, after all, be possible.

Source: NYT

Courtesy: The Verge

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  On December 11, 2012(2 years, 11 months ago.)

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