As of early September, a new cancer treatment has been approved to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The treatment is called gene therapy and it works by reprogramming cells to add new genes or fix ones that aren't working the way they should. It has a lot of potential for certain diseases like leukemia because the so-called CAR-T therapy treatment collects T cells from the patient, reprograms them in a lab to attack the cancerous cells, and transfers the adoptive T cells back into the patient where they can work to fight off cancer cells. In clinical trials, there was an 83% survival rate in patients who had stopped responding to other treatments. Though few gene therapy treatments have been approved around the world, this FDA approval may be the catalyst for the acceptance of similar treatments.
Another treatment has been approved for glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer which often leads to tumors that can only be treated by surgery and chemotherapy. As illogical as it sounds, a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine suggests that we may be able to use the zika virus to fight glioblastoma cells that cause brain tumors. Clinical trials showed that the virus targeted and killed the cancerous cells while leaving the healthy cells alone. Although there's still a lot of research to be done before doctors start implementing this treatment, the idea may not be as crazy as it sounds! To learn more, watch the video!