British patients will be the first in the world to receive a pioneering cell therapy that scientists hope will transform the treatment of lung cancer.
The treatment uses stem cells taken from bone marrow that have been genetically modified to find and destroy cancer cells.
If successful, the treatment would offer hope to lung cancer patients, who continue to face one of the worst outlooks of all cancer patients. More than 40,000 people are diagnosed with the disease in the UK each year and only 5% of patients survive beyond 10 years.
Prof Sam Janes, who is leading the research at University College hospital in London, said: “Cancers need something new. Chemotherapy works minimally and for a short while. This is truly experimental.”
The trial, funded by the Medical Research Council, comes as a wave of cell-based therapies are making their way towards clinic. Early indications suggest these therapies could have a major impact on cure rates and survival times for patients.
Two patient studies involving genetically modified immune cells in the US and Britain have shown promising results in leukaemia.
The latest trial will involve 56 participants, who will begin treatment early next year. The group will all have been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, at which point patients are normally only offered palliative care or treatments expected to extend life by a few months.
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