HIV virus used to hunt down cancer cells
After chemotherapy failed to cure Emily Whitehead’s severe form of leukaemia, Oxford BioMedica’s new treatment has given her five cancer-free years
At just six years old, cancer patient Emily Whitehead had run out of options. Three rounds of chemotherapy had failed to cure a severe form of leukaemia. Her doctors could do no more; she was sent into hospice care. Her desperate parents were left with only one option. They put Emily into an experimental programme, making her the first patient in the world to receive a new kind of gene therapy.
The revolutionary treatment uses a stripped-down version of the HIV virus that reprograms cells to hunt down and kill cancer. Within weeks of a single injection, Emily was at home, playing football again and spending time with her dog Lucy, who was born around the time she was diagnosed.
KARI WHITEHEAD The Sunday Times 2.07.2017