Chinese hospital treats U.S. cancer patient with experimental therapy

Updated 2017-09-08 16:00:36 Xinhua

A Chinese hospital has used an experimental therapy to treat an American patient with bone marrow cancer, the first time a foreigner has received such therapy at a Chinese institution, the hospital said.

Craig Chase, 56, from California, was discharged on Aug. 30 from Jiangsu People's Hospital in Nanjing, in Jiangsu Province, after receiving treatment for myeloma cancer.

Before he was discharged from hospital, his blood test results were within normal range.

"The medical treatment has been successful," said Dr. Chen Lijuan, who carried out the CAR-T trials.

Chase underwent repeated chemotherapy and received an autologous stem cell transplant in June 2015. However, the conventional treatment failed to contain the disease.

In June, he learnt about the CAR-T trial treatment in China and through his American doctor contacted Li Jianyong, director of the hematology department at Jiangsu People's Hospital. Li is a famed blood disease expert in China. Li directed Chase to Chen.

The hospital started to treat myeloma cancer patients by using CAR-T therapy from April this year.

Before Chase, five patients had received the therapy with four having excellent results, but the doctors had never treated a foreign citizen, Chen said.

"His illness was rather serious, and it was already late stage. The therapy is still in experimental phase, so we were under a lot of pressure," she said.

CAR-T, chimeric antigen receptor, involves removing T-cells from a patients' blood, reprogramming them into the body to attack infected cells.

"T-cells are like the police force in our body. CAR-T arms the cells with positioning and ballistic device. When the T-cells are re-injected in the body, these cell police can precisely locate the cancer cells and terminate them," she said. "CAR-T has received a lot of attention, but using CAR-T to treat multiple myeloma is still in the trial phase and not yet mature."

Chase started CAR-T treatment on Aug. 11, and doctors will continue to monitor his health, she said.

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