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Frontier | New gene therapy successfully saves lymphoma patients

The University Hospital of Freiburg in Germany has used a novel gene therapy to treat diffuse large cell lymphoma for the first time and achieved great success. With so-called CAR-T cell therapy, a patient's immune cells, known as lymphocytes, are genetically modified in the laboratory to recognize and fight cancer cells. Initial examination after treatment showed good results.

The first patient to be treated had diffuse large cell lymphoma, which can lead to rapid death if left untreated. The female patient had previously undergone intensive treatment for lymphoma, but the cancer cells quickly returned.

Reinhard Mark, chief physician at the First Department of Internal Medicine at the University Hospital Freiburg, said: "In this case, long-term control of the cancer is a serious challenge for treatment. And the patient's cancer was no longer detected after using CAR-T cells. cell."

Research shows that in most cases, this good response will keep the cancer under control for a long time. Justus Durst, medical director of the First Department of Internal Medicine, said that the first successful case confirmed that this treatment method achieved its goal, "We are using CAR-T cells as a very effective weapon, especially in the fight against leukemia. aspects. We firmly believe that this approach may also be effective in other types of tumors."

The body's immune system has a variety of weapons at its disposal to kill cancer cells, but it sometimes fails to recognize denatured cells. In some cases, doctors can use the patient's own T lymphocytes. Gene therapy is used to introduce the selected new "chimeric antigen receptor" (CAR) onto the surface of T lymphocytes, and then the changed cells are transplanted back into the patient's body. These CAR-T cells will be activated and targeted. Sexually destroy tumor cells.

Durst emphasized that the great potential of this type of gene therapy will also be offset by certain risks and side effects. For example, in the case of cell activation, the release of messenger substances in cytokines may occur, causing inflammatory reactions such as high fever. Additionally, temporary and fully reversible changes in brain function may occur. Therefore, comprehensive medical, neurologic, and critical care are essential during treatment. "This therapy can only be provided with optimal synergy between oncology, neurology, intensive care medicine and transplantation medicine".

So far, CAR-T cell therapy has only been approved for a few forms of leukemia and lymphoma in Germany, and often only in patients who have failed to respond to standard treatments. A team led by Toni Kettermann, director of the Institute of Gene Therapy at the University Hospital Freiburg, is exploring the safer implementation of CAR-T cell therapy through a major EU project. He said if the safety of the treatment could be improved, more methods could be used to treat patients and used for other cancers.

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