7-year-old girl beats leukemia - with disabled form of HIV
After exhausting all other options, treatment restores girl's health quickly
Little Emily Whitehead's family had almost given up hope. Fighting leukemia for two years, Emily, or as she is commonly known, Emma relapsed for a second time during intensive chemotherapy treatment last February. Doctors had exhausted all the traditional treatments and her parents began to look at more radical options. Emily's salvation lay in a disabled form of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Adult patients had responded well to the therapy in clinical trials at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The treatment, however was so new, her parents were warned that there would be attendant risks.
"We were told that we were down to 48 hours of making a decision or she could start having organ failure," her mother Mrs. Whitehead said. They soldiered on with the knowledge that even if the procedure didn't work, the information could help doctors save other sick children.
Emma became the first child to have the therapy known as CTL019 last April.
Emily became critically ill and was admitted to intensive care at the children's hospital. On April 24, doctors told her parents she had a one in 1,000 chance of surviving the night.
Then, trial leader Dr. Stephan Grupp and his team realized that the level of a certain protein had become very elevated as a result of the T-cells growing in Emily's body. The team administered the drug to Emily, with dramatic results. Emma's breathing improved, her fever dropped and her blood pressure was back to normal.
Emma's father was extremely proud of her daughter. "She told us from the beginning that she would continue to fight and do what we asked as long as we were there with her. We've stuck together as a team. She's definitely our hero."
In the experimental treatment, her T-cells were collected from her blood, then re-engineered in a lab to recognize and attach to a protein called CD19 that is found only on the surface of B cells. In order to do this, doctors used a gutted HIV virus, called a lentivirus, to carry special receptors into the T-cells. There is no risk of HIV infection from a lentivirus.
"Emily completely responded to her T-cell therapy. We checked her bone marrow for the possibility of disease again at three months and six months out from her treatment, and she still has no disease whatsoever," doctors said. "The cancer-fighting T-cells are still there in her body."
Emily went home in June and now enjoys going to school, playing football and walking her dog Lucy.
Scientists said that while the results were very promising, much more research needs to be done to see whether the therapy is a viable, safe and long-term solution for controlling certain cancers in children and adults.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Health News
- Malaria cases spread to higher elevations
- Alzheimer's to join cancer, heart disease as one of America's top fatal conditions
- Birthing centers not provided for under health care reform
- Lots of proteins can BE BAD FOR YOU! 'As bad for health as smoking,' new study finds
- OUTBREAK: 53 people in 10 states stricken with measles
- Popular overdose drug rises in cost, to keep up with demand
- ANCIENT SCOURGE: leprosy, still very much alive in the world today, goes back 10 million years
- CONTROVERSY: Is dyslexia a 'meaningless label' to excuse bad reading skills?
- Horrid polio-like disease stalking children in California, may be very widespread
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?