Ian Sample and Jessica Glenza, The Guardian:
A woman with advanced breast cancer which had spread around her body has been completely cleared of the disease by a groundbreaking therapy that harnessed the power of her immune system to fight the tumours.
It is the first time that a patient with late-stage breast cancer has been successfully treated by a form of immunotherapy that uses the patient’s own immune cells to find and destroy cancer cells that have formed in the body.
Judy Perkins, an engineer from Florida, was 49 when she was selected for the radical new therapy after several rounds of routine chemotherapy failed to stop a tumour in her right breast from growing and spreading to her liver and other areas. At the time, she was given three years to live.
Doctors who cared for the woman at the US National Cancer Institute in Maryland said Perkins’s response had been “remarkable”: the therapy wiped out cancer cells so effectively that she has now been free of the disease for two years.
“My condition deteriorated a lot towards the end, and I had a tumour pressing on a nerve, which meant I spent my time trying not to move at all to avoid pain shooting down my arm. I had given up fighting,” Perkins said. “After the treatment dissolved most of my tumours, I was able to go for a 40-mile hike.”