With the occasional exception of wars and disasters, most big, exciting headlines eventually prove disappointing. This is, of course, because readers grant the headline or lede too much credit and, when the detail mitigates the happy rush, well, we are disappointed.
Bearing that in mind, the browser title reads, “Clinical trial raises hope for cancer treatment”, which is certainly good news. The headline, however, for Eryn Brown’s Los Angeles Times story is a bit more demanding: “‘Huge’ results raise hope for cancer breakthrough“.
Even accounting for the expected disappointment, it’s still really good news:
In a potential breakthrough in cancer research, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have genetically engineered patients’ T cells—a type of white blood cell—to attack cancer cells in advanced cases of a common type of leukemia.
Two of the three patients who received doses of the designer T cells in a clinical trial have remained cancer-free for more than a year, the researchers said.
Experts not connected with the trial said the feat was important because it suggested that T cells could be tweaked to kill a range of cancers, including ones of the blood, breast and colon.
“This is a huge accomplishment—huge,” said Dr. Lee M. Nadler, dean for clinical and translational research at Harvard Medical School, who discovered the molecule on cancer cells that the Pennsylvania team’s engineered T cells target.
Findings of the trial were reported Wednesday in two journals.