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Wilmot Cancer Institute to offer new therapy for treating lymphoma

(WHAM photo)

There is a lot of excitement at the Wilmot Cancer Institute. It is one of the first sites in the world to be approved to offer a new type of immunotherapy for adults with aggressive lymphoma.

It’s given hope to cancer patients who had few, if any, options left.

At Dr. Patrick Regan’s lymphoma clinic inside the Wilmot Cancer Institute, patients who had a life expectancy of just a few months came for what could be one last chance to beat their cancer.

They took part in a clinical trial, testing a new type of immunotherapy.

“It’s an individualized therapy where cells from a patient’s body are taken out, brought to a laboratory, trained to fight cancer and then put back in the body,” said Dr. Jonathon Friedberg, director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute.

It’s a living drug that continues in the body, fighting cancer cells.

80 percent of the patients treated responded to it. That’s four times what is typically seen.

“What we would expect is a response rate of maybe 20 percent, maybe a little better than that. But would far exceed the expectations of how you would expect the drug to work,” said Dr. Patrick Regan.

“This is a truly remarkable treatment,” Friedberg added. “The level of the activity far exceeds anything I’ve ever seen.”

The work inside the clinic means the Wilmot Cancer Institute will be among the first in the world to offer the treatment.

It’s the kind of news that keeps Bruce Bolger going. He survived lymphoma. The Wilmot Cancer Institute saved his life. Now, he hopes money raised will save someone else’s.

“Anything that can be done to help someone dealing with this is excellent,” he said.

And Dr. Friedberg believes this engineered gene therapy is just the beginning, saying it can and will be used to treat other cancers in the future.

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