British baby given genetically-edited immune cells to beat cancer in world first

Posted on 5 Nov 2015


Layla_Richards_wit_3493250b… A British baby has become the first in the world to be free of leukaemia through a ground-breaking genetic editing technique which creates designer immune cells to fight cancer.

Doctors had given up all hope of saving Layla Richards, now 17 months, after she failed to respond to chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

But when desperate parents Lisa and Ashleigh begged Great Ormond Street Hospital to try anything to cure their daughter, specialists agreed to attempt something entirely unique.

A team of scientists and doctors took donor immune cells and used ‘molecular scissors’ to edit out genes to create specialised killer cells which could hunt out and eradicate her leukaemia.

The treatment, which had only been tried in mice, was so experimental that specialists had to apply for emergency permission from health regulators and the hospital’s ethics committee.

It took just 10 minutes to administer and now, just a few months on, Layla is free of cancer and back at home. Doctors are hopeful that she is cured but want to wait a year or two to make sure the disease does not return before giving her the all clear.

Professor Paul Veys, Director of bone marrow transplant at Great Ormond Street, said: “As this was the first time that the treatment had been used, we didn’t know if or when it work so we were over the moon when it did.

“Her leukaemia was so aggressive that such a response is almost a miracle. She’s a very tough little girl, almost indestructible.”…

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