The life of a baby girl battling cancer has been saved through a form of cell therapy treatment that had never before been tested on people, according to The Guardian. Doctors say that the girl is now safe and has been cleared of her leukemia, which was thought to be incurable.
The girl, Layla Richard, was only 3 months old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, also known as ALL. Over the course of the following year, Layla was subject to various treatments including chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant.
These treatments showed no affect.
An experimental drug containing genetically-modified cells was offered to Layla by doctors at Britain’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, or GOSH. Her family agreed to the treatment, administered via intravenous injection, and two years later Layla was cancer free.
She has since been discharged from the hospital and is now at home with her family.
The highly experimental treatment was given to the girl after all other treatment options had been exhausted with no results. Two months after undergoing genetically edited cell injection, Layla stunned doctors as she became completely cancer-free.
“Her leukemia was so aggressive that such a response is almost a miracle,” said Paul Veys, who led the team treating Layla at GOSH. “As this was first time that treatment had been used, we didn’t know if or when it would work, so we were over the moon when it did”.
The treatment is designed to work by adding new genes to donated T-cells, which then become equipped to better fight against the leukemia.
It was designed at GOSH and the University College London in tandem with French biotech firm Cellectis.
“This is a landmark in the use of new gene engineering technology and the effects for this child have been staggering,” said Waseem Qasim, a professor of Cell and Gene Therapy at University of London and immunologist at GOSH who worked on Layla’s medical team.
If Layla’s success can be replicated in other patients, Qasim says the therapy “could represent a huge step forward in treating leukemia and other cancers.”