A reprogrammed version of HIV, which causes AIDS, was used by doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to end 6-year-old Emma Whitehead’s terminal leukemia.
Whitehead didn’t have much longer to live when the untested therapy was offered to her parents, reports the New York Times.
Doctors placed modified HIV, which disables transmission of the virus, in with custom T-cells that reprogrammed Whitehead's immune system to fight her leukemia.
Doctors then gave her an arthritis drug and her fever and inflammation fell. Whitehead started to recover in April 2011.
Doctor’s haven’t said that Whitehead is cured, but Dr. Ivan Borrello, a cancer specialist at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, told the New York Times: “I think this is a major breakthrough.”
Two other people have had complete remissions with the experimental therapy, and four others experienced improvements in their condition.
The treatment is currently being developed further by pharmaceutical company Novartis, the report added.
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'Fire With Fire' is a new short film that chronicles Emma Whitehead's amazing story and the breakthrough cancer treatment that saved her life (video below).