Cancer breakthrough using a patient's own cells

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Researchers are looking to a therapy being reviewed by the FDA for use in children with certain forms of leukemia as a treatment for adults.

Chimeric Antigen Receptor Therapy or “CAR-T” is a method of taking a patient’s own white cells that traditionally fight cancer, removing them and re-educating them to better target a patient’s own cancer.

Scientists at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center who are participating in the worldwide clinical trial call CAR-T a possible game changer.

“We don’t throw that around lightly,” said Dr. Samantha Jaglowski, who is a leukemia researcher, “It’s still new. The first patients were treated about five years ago but some of them are still in remission.”

Steve Fulkert participated in the clinical trial. He was battling a slow-growing form of lymphoma that took an aggressive turn in 2015.

Fulkert said as soon as he had the CAR-T, he felt the change.

“The best way I can describe it that it was like a war zone in your throat I knew it was working and each day I could reach down my throat and feel the tumors in my throat get smaller," he said.

The therapy left Fulkert, who had a poor prognosis before having CAR-T, now in remission.

“It’s so exciting to be involved in something that you know could really change people’s lives,” he said.

Researchers remain optimistic and cautious. They expect to see approvals for the therapy’s use in treating aggressive lymphoma from the FDA by the end of 2017.