Alyssa (13) had leukemia.
Alyssa (13) has been battling leukemia with T cells since May last year. Chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant – his doctors tried everything to help the young Briton. Nevertheless, there is no success, as the “BBC” writes, there is nothing classic treatment options can do against recurrent blood cancer.
“I would have died eventually,” Alyssa said. Her mother, Keona, said she was dreading Christmas this time last year because she thought it would be “the last time we’ll have her with us.” What happened next would have been unthinkable just a few years ago and was made possible by incredible advances in genetics.
Basic modification can create new cells
Because doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London have developed a new, living drug for Alisa using the “base editing” method, discovered six years ago – a real feat of biotechnology. And with success: six months after the start of treatment, the cancer disappeared.
Adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (D) are the four basic building blocks of our genetic code. Just as the letters of the alphabet make up words, the billions of bases in our DNA make up the instructions for our body’s use.
Base editing allows scientists and clinicians to zoom in on a specific region of the genetic code, then alter the molecular structure of one site, replace it with another, and change genetic instructions. Doctors in London have developed a new type of T-cell that hunts down and kills malignant cells, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Alisa’s family was skeptical at first. When the idea was explained to the family, mum Kiona was the only one who thought: “Is that possible? Can you do that?” In May this year, the young fighter was the first to opt for the experimental treatment, which contained millions of transplanted cells – despite all the uncertainties. Thus he became the first patient admitted to the hospital to undergo this treatment.
Now Alyssa is cancer free – and very happy. “Learn to appreciate every little thing. I am very grateful to be here now,” the teenager told the BBC. “It’s crazy. It’s incredible that I got this opportunity. I’m so grateful for it and it will help other kids in the future.” (chs)
“Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Zombie advocate. Entrepreneur. Internet evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Typical travel buff.”