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U Of M Doctors’ New Approach To Cancer — Killer Cells

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new approach to cancer is saving lives by using killer cells. “Natural Killer” cells exist in all of our bodies. They fight off illness and tumors. But now doctors at the University of Minnesota are having success using them to fight an aggressive form of cancer.

Jodney Steinberg has spent plenty of time in hospitals since he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia three years ago.

“There really were no options after this,” he said.

But Steinberg and his wife now have hope, after coming here from Delray Beach, Florida for an experimental procedure, with the help of their daughter.

“She donated her cells,” he said, “and they marinated them with Interleukin-2.”

Doctors at the University of Minnesota Medical Center are using cells that we all have in our blood, the natural killer or N.K. cells, to fight his kind of cancer.

“We know that N.K. cells are the scavengers of malignant cells in the body,” said Dr. Jeffrey Miller.

He takes cells from a relative’s blood, transfuses them to the patient, and helps them grow with the drug called Interleukin-2.

That, combined with chemotherapy, knock out the cancer long enough to allow them to get a bone marrow transplant, which has a proven track record.

“This is really a new avenue,” said Dr. Miller, “because cells are not chemotherapy. They are your own immune system, and what science is telling us is how to exploit that activity to really kill cancer cells.”

Steinberg is now recovering from his transplant, and getting stronger every day, giving him new life, thanks to the killer cells.

“We had the privilege of celebrating our 50th anniversary in Minnesota,” he said. “Who knew?”

Miller says the treatment only works on AML, not the other kind of acute leukemia known as ALL.

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