Dr Hans Stauss, a tumour immunologist at Imperial, said: 'The possibilities for new treatments are enormous.' The first trial of the injection is about to begin on ten patients.
The 'labelling' was achieved by identifying a single gene which is over-active in leukaemia cells. It is referred to as WT-1. For the second strand, the researchers took white blood cells from healthy donors and isolated the few that mounted the fiercest response against tumour cells in the laboratory.
By cloning them, they were able to produce unlimited supplies of peak performance immune cells, called T-cells. In tests, the engineered immune cells specifically destroyed leukaemia cells and ignored normal cells of the same type.
'That's the beauty of the approach,' said Dr Stauss. 'It is so specific at destroying cancer cells.' He hopes to further develop the technique for after-care to ensure there is no recurrence of the cantimescale is about five to six years before we see it widely used,' said Dr Stauss.
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