Killing Cancer Like The Common Cold. And It's Working

December 10, 2013

nick wilkins

Nick Wilkins was diagnosed with leukemia at just four years old.  After chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and a bone marrow transplant from his sister, the cancer kept coming back. Nick was now 14 years old and the Wilkins family was running out of options.

At the time, the University of Pennsylvania was conducting an experimental therapy. Unlike the previous methods which attacked the cancer cells with poison, this approach tweaks your immune system to fight off the cancer cells just as it would the common cold.

cancer cure using immune system
The gray cell on the left attacks the green cancer cell, which gets smaller and eventually dies. Photo: Michael Milone/UPENN

Doctor's remove the patients T-cells, reprogram them with new genes, and infuse the cells back into the patient's body. Each cell multiplies to 10,000 cells and acts as a "hunter cell" which tracks down the cancer.

It has been six months since the treatment and doctors can not find any traces of leukemia in Nick's system. This is not a proven cure, but it is a step closer. Of 59 patients, 25 are now cancer free.

"It gives us hope that this is a cure," Nick's father says. "They're really close. I think they're really onto something."

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