May 1, 2013

White Dog and The White Dog Army
Wonderful World Wednesday

White Dog reminds our readers that May is National Cancer Research Month; thirty-one days of sharing stories about how we are gaining on this horrible monster and the new technologies and therapies being developed to cure, yes, CURE the Warriors currently fighting so valiantly.
The hope brought by this month of focusing on the energy and brain power being applied toward ending this beast that takes too many and breaks too many hearts gives us confidence that together we are building the bridges to cures…bridges to a world where cancer no longer exists for any creature, two- or four-legged…bridges to a future where children get to grow up and truly experience just how wonderful the world is…where pups and their humans are together, in health, for a long long long time.

Here is some GREAT news to make you cheer for the good guys in white lab coats and the tough Warriors who carry the battle to inside their own bodies…

Young cancer patient's good news: 'Total remission!'
By Marie McCullough, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer,  April 21, 2013, mmccullough@phillynews.com

The seventh child to receive an experimental leukemia therapy at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia got good news last week: It worked. "Avrey Walker is cancer free!!!! A total remission!" her father, Aaron, exulted on their Facebook page.

The 9-year-old from Redmond, Ore., was diagnosed at age 4 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a blood cancer that can be deadly within a few months if not treated. Like other children in the study at Children's, Avrey had undergone years of intermittent chemotherapy, only to relapse each time the toxic treatments ended.

She was one of the minority of children who do not respond to conventional treatments. Today, with potent chemotherapies and radiation, about 80 percent of the 3,000 children diagnosed annually in the United States are cured. But the treatments are harsh, and when they fail, the options are increasingly grim.

Aaron Walker and his wife, Christal, turned to Children's after reading about Emily Whitehead of Philipsburg, Pa., the first child to receive the hospital's genetically engineered therapy, made using each patient's disease-fighting "T cells." Emily remains in remission, a year after treatment.

Avrey and her parents spent about 50 days in Philadelphia while her T cells were modified, multiplied, and, a month ago, returned to her bloodstream. "I have heard of miracles like most of us have; however I have never witnessed one in person - until now," Walker said. "We are so thankful!"

The immunotherapy researchers, including Stephan Grupp at Children's and Carl H. June at the University of Pennsylvania, recoil from words like miracle. And they have published results from only the first two children.

Still, the T-cell therapy is showing startling effectiveness, judging from both scientific and parental accounts: Of the first seven children, five had a complete response - no evidence of cancer - although one of them later relapsed. One child did not respond, and one child's outcome has not been made public by parents or doctors.

The therapy involves transferring genes into T cells - the soldiers of the immune system - to make them recognize and attack B cells, the blood component that turns malignant in certain leukemias and lymphomas. There is also evidence that some of the designer T cells develop immune "memory," so they could reactivate and strike if cancer returns.

Recently, this immunotherapy technology has been successfully used in small numbers of patients in studies at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York and the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md.

The toxicity of this new approach is not yet clear, and seems to vary. At one extreme, Emily Whitehead nearly died when the T cells threw her immune system into overdrive. Avrey's reaction, in contrast, was unusually mild. "We were all waiting for the big storm," her father said. "She just felt a little groggy and had a low-grade fever" for about a day.

The durability of the therapeutic effect is also unclear. However, an adult leukemia patient treated at Penn remains cancer-free two and a half years after treatment.

Children like Avrey have never known such a lengthy respite from disease, disability, and dread. Now, her father said, she wants to go back to fourth grade, play softball, hang out with her big sister, Madison.

"We'll try to get back to a normal life," he said, "something we haven't had for 10 years."

The video below is about a similar treatment for adult leukemia patients (Mar. 2013). The White Dog Army believes that with hope and determination the c monster's reign is coming to an end... and what could be more wonderful than that? Join us in supporting and praying for the success of research being done all around the globe.


Brian said...

Such a great post and we gotta whip that evil c butt!

Tweedles -- that's me said...

We are all warriors - united together!