New form of treatment can cure bone marrow cancer with the patient's own blood

New form of treatment can cure bone marrow cancer with the patient's own blood

A new form of treatment has been approved by the FDA in the US and has been initiated this year in a trial scheme in Denmark. Copenhagen University Hospital estimate that the treatment can help eight out of ten cancer patients.

When suffering from bone marrow cancer, the bone marrow becomes infiltrated by malignant cells known as plasma cells. They can reduce the production of red blood cells in particular. Those are the blood cells that transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissue of the entire body.

The reduced production of blood cells results in anaemia, which is one of the most characteristic symptoms of bone marrow cancer. The disease often causes outbreaks of osteoporosis, which the patient must be treated for simultaneously as a result. 


Good results from treatment with the patient’s own white blood cells

In 2017, a new form of treatment was approved by the FDA in the US, in which the patient's own white blood cells are extracted and sent to a laboratory in Leipzig, Germany. Here, a virus is added to the white blood cells, which can recognise and attack cancerous cells.

The cells are then sent back for the patient to be treated with them. However, prior to this treatment, the patient must take immunosuppressive drugs in order to ensure that the patient's immune system does not kill the new white blood cells. 


The treatment has begun in Denmark

In January, a Canadian trial scheme with Danish participation, in which the focus is on children suffering from cancer, began. The study will increase knowledge about the effectiveness of the treatment with the white blood cells on several types of child cancer.

The study will test for side effects in order to prevent them, and a laboratory will be established so that the cells can be produced and further developed in Denmark.

Copenhagen University Hospital estimate, in an articlethey have written on the subject, that the treatment is expected to save eight out of ten patients, who cannot be cured by other types of treatment. This sparks hope for patients, who have had a bone marrow transplantation without success, which is the last resort in some cases today.


Chemotherapy damages both sick and healthy cells

Young people have a solid bone marrow, which gradually becomes weaker, the older they get. Because of this, age plays a central role when choosing which type of treatment to administer. One of the established treatments for bone marrow cancer is chemotherapy.

The chemotherapy cannot exclusively target the sick cells; it also affects the healthy ones. Patients over the age of 70 are therefore rarely treated for bone marrow cancer in this way, because the treatment is too toxic. As a result, patients over the age of 70 will most often be treated with tablets on an outpatient basis for a period of 6-12 months.

Children will also benefit greatly from the new form of treatment. At present, four out of five children survive cancer, but half of the surviving patients have to live the rest of their lives with the side effects from the treatment. The new form of treatment results in a shorter course of sickness because it works faster and causes less side effects. The treatment will be applied to different types of cancer, not just bone marrow cancer. 

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