Immune to Cancer: The CRI Blog



Cancer Immunotherapy Goes Viral

A deadly virus that has killed more than 25 million people over the past 32 years has become a powerful new weapon in the fight against cancer.

CRI-funded scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a way to use the HIV virus, which can cause fatal failures of the immune system in untreated individuals infected with the virus, to reprogram immune cells to attack cancer. The results are astounding.

Watch this emotionally moving video about this new treatment. The video has “gone viral” on the Internet with more than 1.3 million views since it was published last month.

In the video, Dr. Carl June explains how we may have finally come within reach of lasting cures for cancer. The video tells the story of young Emma Whitehead, who at age 6 was dying from advanced leukemia. Emma’s doctors infected her T cells with their modified HIV virus (which in this form cannot cause disease). Shortly after her doctors released the engineered T cells back into Emma’s bloodstream, her immune system went to work right away on her cancer, and within days she was declared cancer-free. Emma, now a healthy 8 year old who just completed the second grade, remains in remission today.

Dr. June’s work is a very good example of the power of immunotherapy to conquer cancer. When it works in patients, it works very well. And we won’t stop working to advance this new class of cancer treatments until more and eventually all cancer patients have immune-based options.

Last year, we honored Dr. June with the 2012 William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology—our highest scientific honor. We look forward to having Emma and her family join us at our next awards dinner on September 30 this year in New York City.

If you’d like to learn more about Dr. June’s amazing treatment, watch our recent webinar featuring Dr. June talking about his work.


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