Gene therapy cures adult leukemia patient in China

Updated: 2015-12-04 15:28


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CHONGQING - Chinese doctors have cured a patient of leukemia using gene therapy, a hospital in Chongqing announced Friday.

Zhang Fang, a middle-aged woman, has been cured of leukemia after she was treated with CAR T therapy in the Southwest Hospital, affiliated with the Chongqing-based Third Military Medical University.

"The cancer cells have disappeared from her body. She is the first patient who has been completely cured of the disease using gene therapy," said Professor Qian Cheng, director of the Bio-Treatment Center of the hospital.

China has about four million leukemia patients. Most patients are treated using chemo-therapy or bone marrow transplants. The CAR T treatment is a gene therapy using modified T cells to fight cancer cells in leukemia patients.

"The CAR T therapy is a much better option, because it can cut costs by at least 30 percent compared with bone marrow transplant, and is more likely to lead to a cure," the professor said.

Six other patients, who are receiving the gene therapy in the hospital, have shown improved condition, he added.

The CAR T gene therapy is still in the clinical trial phase in China and has only been carried out in fewer than ten hospitals across the country.

Qian said his team is encouraged by the success and will further study the dose and improve the therapy.