This story, about the decades-long evolution of cell therapy, features satisfying mini-profiles of three daring pioneers of the field: Steven A. Rosenberg chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute, Carl H. June of the University of Pennsylvania and Michel Sadelain of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
The dauntingly personalized technique employs T-cells, powerful soldiers of the immune system, to give patients souped-up versions of their own immune systems that work “better than nature made it,” June described.
The big thrust now is to expand the use of cell therapy to many types of cancer. Sadelain and Juno currently are working on a therapy that not only binds to the target but produces immune-stimulating chemicals. Others are developing genetic switches that dim or shut off the powerful therapy if it endangers the patient.
The New York Times