Kidney Cancer Promise

Each year about 30,000 Americans will be diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer. Nearly 60 percent will die from it. Now doctors at UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center have found a way to slow the disease using a patient’s own immune system.

You’ll never know by watching her that Georgyiana isn’t in perfect health. She’s as active as ever and feels, “Wonderful. I can’t say another word. Wonderful. I’m doing everything in my home,” she says.

That’s not what you’d expect from someone with kidney cancer that’s spread to the lungs. However, Georgyiana is fighting back using her own immune system to do the job.

Her doctor says, “The goal with Georgyiana in terms of cycle two is to continue to slowly stimulate the immune system to destroy every last tumor cell.”

Doctor hopes to do that with an experimental drug called leuvectin. When leuvectin is injected directly into Georgyiana’s tumor, it causes cancer cells to produce a protein called interlukin-2. IL-2 stimulates the patient’s immune system to attack and destroy tumor cells. Because the drug is injected directly into the tumor, it can be given in high doses and with fewer side effects than radiation or chemotherapy.

Dr. says, “When you give the gene therapy directly into the tumor, you’re bypassing the body’s own immune system and going directly to the immune system that’s interacting with the tumor.”

After 12 weeks on the drug, Georgyiana’s tumors are much smaller, and her prognosis is much brighter.

“I pray. I remember my God, and I say, ‘Okay, I hope everything is fine for me,'” says Georgyiana.

It’s too early to tell, but at least now Georgyiana has a fighting chance.

Leuvectin is also showing promise in prostate cancer.

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