|Who would dare to pit one fatal disease against another… inside the body of an six-year-old patient? The results will shatter all expectations.|
In the amazing and powerful video above, produced by GE Focus Forward Films, by director Ross Kauffman, a team of researchers use a last-ditch attempt to treat leukemia in a young patient - very unconventionally.
'Fire with Fire' looks at the work of Stephan A. Grupp from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Dr. Carl H. June and David L. Porter from the University of Pennsylvania and how they taught the immune system to recognize and kill tumor cells.
In the experiment, the team collected and treated the patient's T Cells with a virus - in this case HIV - to modify them genetically. The virus has been engineered so it will not cause AIDS but it will still reproduce and reprogram the immune system. In the experiment, the programming makes the immune system attack cancer cells.
Each virus-infused cell can, when re-introduced into the patient's body, kill more than 1000 tumor cells.
The child's parents were told their daughter might experience flu-like symptoms a few days after being infused with her re-engineered T cells, similar to the adult patients who had already been treated. But as is sometimes the case with experimental treatments, Emily’s symptoms were much more serious than doctors anticipated. She became critically ill and was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit.
Dr. Grupp and a team of scientists worked quickly to determine what had caused her sudden illness. They learned that the level of a certain protein had become very elevated as a result of the T cells growing in her body. This same protein is involved in rheumatoid arthritis, and there is a drug for that disease that turns off production of that particular protein. The team administered the drug to Emily, with dramatic results: her condition improved faster than anyone could have hoped for. Almost overnight, her breathing improved, her fever dropped and her blood pressure was back to normal.
Amazingly the patient, Emma Whitehead survived the ordeal and is now leukemia-free.
Focus Forward is an award-winning series of 30 three-minute stories about innovators—people who are reshaping the world through act or invention—directed by the world's most celebrated documentary filmmakers. The films have been viewed in 150 countries and screened to audiences on all seven continents.
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