David Scharf/Science Source

Woman cancer-free after targeted immune treatment

A woman with metastatic colon cancer is, for now, free of disease after her immune cells were carefully selected to target a gene mutation buried in her tumors, The New York Times reports. As reported today in The New England Journal of Medicine, the 50-year-old engineer and mother of five is the first to benefit from such a therapy, and it’s generating excitement—in part because the mutation, KRAS, is extremely common in certain cancers, has been highly resistant to drugs, and often tracks with a poor prognosis. The woman was treated in a clinical trial at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, by a team led by Steven Rosenberg, who pioneered use of these immune cells, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, against cancer back in the 1990s.

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