Baby girl is first in the world to be treated with 'designer immune cells'

A baby girl with aggressive leukaemia has become the first in the world to be treated with designer immune cells that were genetically engineered to wipe out her cancer. The one-year-old, Layla Richards, was given months to live after conventional treatments failed to eradicate the disease, but she is now cancer free and doing well, a response one doctor described as “almost a miracle”.  “We have only used this treatment on one very strong little girl, and we have to be cautious about claiming this will be a suitable treatment option for all children,” said Waseem Qasim, professor of cell and gene therapy at University College London’s (UCL) Institute of Child Health, and a consultant immunologist at GOSH. “But this is a landmark in the use of new gene engineering technology and the effects for this child have been staggering,” he said.

The therapy could be suitable for five to 10 children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in Britain each year. But doctors are keen to modify the therapy to tackle other blood disorders and different types of cancer.

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