Some good news on the cancer research front.

An experimental gene therapy that turns a patient’s own blood cells into cancer killers worked in a major study, with more than one-third of very sick lymphoma patients showing no sign of disease six months after a single treatment, Kite Pharma Inc. said Tuesday.

In all, 82% of patients had their cancer shrink at least by half at some point in the study.

Shares of Santa Monica-based Kite soared. They were up more than 25%, at $71.31, shortly before the closing bell. 

Kite is racing Novartis AG to become the first company to win approval of the treatment, called CAR-T cell therapy, in the U.S. It could become the nation’s first approved gene therapy.

A hopeful sign: The share of patients in complete remission after six months — 36% — is barely changed from partial results released after three months, suggesting this one-time treatment might give lasting benefits for those who do respond well. …

The therapy is not without risk. Three of the 101 patients in the study died of causes unrelated to worsening of their cancer, and two of those deaths were deemed due to the treatment.

… The treatment involves filtering a patient’s blood to remove key immune system soldiers called T-cells, altering them in the lab to contain a gene that targets cancer, and reinjecting them intravenously. Doctors call it a “living drug” — permanently altered cells that multiply in the body into an army to fight the disease.

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Cool. Keep going.