A woman was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer three years ago. After having surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, doctors discovered she has seven tumors that threatened her life.
Celine Ryan is being referred to as an historic figure in medicine (c) today.com
51-year-old Celine Ryan from Michigan is an engineer and a mother of five. She read about a clinical trial using gene therapy at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and decided she'd try. Ryan thought the treatment would be a birthday present to herself.
The tests led by Dr. Steven Rosenberg, a leading researcher in immunotherapy at the institute, brought miracles to Ryan's life.
Though jumping into trials initially had issues because of her tumors that though numerous, weren't large enough for the form of treatment being tested. Ryan finally accepted to undergo therapy in March 2015.
The treatment, gene therapy, involves removing cells from a tumor, your body's own cancer-fighting cells, and then multiplying them by billions in a lab. The cells will be brought back to the body to fight the tumor.
Gene therapy freed Ryan from the deadly disease (c) today.com
Ryan spent more than a month in the hospital. She has undergone several trials, testing and procedures. After more or less 30 days of rigorous treatment, six of her seven tumors had completely disappeared. The last tumor started to grow eight or nine months later, but was removed remove through surgery.
Ryan was lucky because the technique isn't widely available for now, and not all patients will have the same positive results.
"Many have not responded," Rosenberg said in statement
. "But from every patient that we treat, whether... their cancers go away or not, we learn something."
The success was due to Ryan's unusual genetic makeup. Researchers were able to identify how to attack the mutation that causes common cancers. This experimental treatment may not be the solution for everyone, but for Ryan, it resulted to her freedom from the disease for more than 10 months.
"We can do, and are planning to do, that kind of gene therapy using the exact receptor we got from Celine's cells to treat other people," Rosenberg explained.