An Adventist doctor from Sydney is at the forefront of a revolutionary treatment that could potentially cure cancer.
In an interview with Australian current affairs program 60 Minutes, Dr Ken Micklethwaite from the Westmead Institute said he and his team have been working with modified immune cells, called CAR T cells, which could help cure blood cancer. In regular circumstances, our immune system cannot distinguish cancer cells from regular cells. However, these modified CAR T cells can.
“We take immune cells that are unable to see cancer, we insert a gene in them that enables them to actually see and then respond to and kill cancer cells,” Dr Micklethwaite said to 60 Minutes reporter Charles Wooley.
The CAR T cell treatment has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States and has a 70-80 per cent success rate. However, it’s expensive at approximately half a million dollars per treatment. Dr Micklethwaite’s research reduces the cost significantly.
A member of Epping Seventh-day Adventist Church, Dr Micklethwaite is excited about the ramifications of this revolutionary discovery.
“The team at Westmead have been working hard for nearly 10 years to bring us to where we are today,” he said. “Things are still in their early phase, but if we can be part of the cure cancer story, then it is well worth it.”