JERUSALEM, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Israeli researchers reported success in trials of a genetic-engineering treatment for myeloma cancer, Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem said in a statement on Friday.
Multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer is the second most common hematological disease and is so far considered incurable.
The current method is based on chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy, which involves harvesting immune T cells from a patient's blood and then modifying them in the lab to produce special structures called CAR on their surface.
In this procedure, a virus and a genetic segment that encodes a receptor against the cancer cells are added to the T cells.
Then, a large amount of the engineered T cells are reinfused into the patient, where the cells' new receptors enable them to recognize and latch onto cancer cells, killing them.
In the Hadassah trials, 74 patients were given the new treatment, and nearly 90 percent of them had a positive response to the treatment, alongside minimal mild side effects.
The researchers reckon "these are dramatic results, giving huge hope for patients with a disease that has no cure."
The idea of using immune cells to fight cancer cells was first born back in 1989 at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science, while CAR-T therapies have since been led by Hadassah's hematology oncologist Polina Stepensky.