NOV 20, 2015 5:16 AM PST

Gene Editing to the Rescue


Having a child diagnosed with cancer is a devastating blow to any parent. Going through chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant with a child younger than a year old is even more horrific and yet that is exactly what one family in the UK had to endure. Layla Richards, the child of Lisa Foley and Ashleigh Richards had been undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, ALL, since she was 14 weeks old. When all else had failed, her parents emailed doctors at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), asking them to try anything that might work.

Layla was accepted into a clinical trial at the hospital where donor genes would be "edited" with technology developed at GOSH and University College of London. These "designer" T cells were then injected back into Layla, and the family waited to see if it would work. A telltale rash that appeared after two weeks was a sign that the genes were affecting Layla. While doctors say Layla is in remission and likely will be the first person cured with this kind of treatment, they also stressed that more research needs to be done. In the meantime, Layla is home with her family, growing, playing and doing everything else most toddlers her age do.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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