An experimental treatment in which researchers reengineer a patient's own immune system to attack cancer cells seems to have worked in a 7-year old girl named Emma Whitehead. The acute lymphoblastic leukemia that almost claimed Whitehead's life is now in remission.
Whitehead received the treatment, called T-cell immunotherapy, in April. First doctors drew Whitehead's blood, separated out white blood cells called T-cells, and then, using a disabled AIDS virus to transmit genetic material, made the T-cells capable of identifying and attacking leukemia cells.
Finally, the genetically modified T-cells were transfused back into Whitehead, where they went to work wiping out her leukemia to below the level of detection, a process that can itself be deadly.