Video: New therapy brings hope to leukemia patients
Transcript of: New therapy brings hope to leukemia patients
NATALIE MORALES, anchor: And some good news to report in the fight against cancer this morning as scientists have been able to successfully destroy cancerous tumors in patients with advanced leukemia for the first time ever. NBC 's chief science correspondent Robert Bazell has more on this achievement 20 years in the making.
ROBERT BAZELL reporting: Bill Ludwig says doctors told him without the experimental treatment he would have had only have weeks to live.
Mr. BILL LUDWIG: I'm now in a position of full health, no cancer in my system.
BAZELL: Ludwig is one of only three patients who have gotten the novel treatment for the most common form of leukemia, called CLL . But the results are so spectacular that many believe they could mark the beginning of a major advance in cancer treatment.
Unidentified Man: In each of those patients, more than a two -- pound or two of tumor was eradicated.
BAZELL: The team at the University of Pennsylvania removed white blood cells that normally fight infection, genetically engineered them with a harmless form of HIV , to make them attach to and kill the cancer cells and returned them to the patients with one infusion. The research was too risky to win government support, but Barbara Netter , who started a foundation with her late husband, Edward , provided the seed money.
Ms. BARBARA NETTER: We wanted to do something more, hoped to do something more.
BAZELL: It will take years more of study to know if the initial excitement is warranted. But at least three lives have been saved. Robert Bazell , NBC News, Philadelphia.