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August 15, 2011

#938: T-Cells


[[Two people are standing facing each other, having a conversation. One is holding a laptop.]]

Person #1 (with laptop): What’s the deal with this leukemia trial? {{Citation: Nejm, Aug 10, 2011}}

Person #2: Gotta wait and see.

Person #2: Helping the immune system attack tumors has been a longtime research target.

Person #2: Lots of promising leads. Often they don’t pan out.

Person #1: What’d these guys do?

Person #2: They took some of the patient’s T-cells and patched their genes so they’d attack the cancer. That hasn’t been enough in the past but their patch also added code to get the T-cells to replicate wildly and persist in the body.

Person #1: Which worked, but created its own set of problems?

Person #2: How’d you guess? But I think the craziest part is the way they insert the patched genes.

Person #1: How?

Person #2: Well, think - What specializes in invading and modifying T-cells?

Person #1: Seriously?

Person #2: Yup. Must’ve been a fun conversation.

[[The last panel is set in a doctors office. A patient is sitting on the observation bed talking to their doctor.]]

Patient: Ok, so I have blood cells growing out of control, so you’re going to give me different blood cells that also grow out of control?

Doctor: Yes, but it’s ok, because we’ve treated this blood with HIV!

Patient: Are you sure you’re a doctor?

Doctor: Almost definitely.