Milton Wright shouldn’t even be alive right now. He spent more than half his life fighting leukemia.
“I always knew it was a possibility it could come back,” said Wright. “But I was at the near five-year mark where it was not supposed to come back.”
But it did return, for the third time.
“It was horrible,” said Shannon Williams, Milton’s mom. “It was awful. And the next thing was, how am I going to tell my 14, my 12 and my 8-year-old that we have to go through this again.”
The news got even worse for this aspiring model when he found out he had become resistant to chemo. That’s when he became the second patient to get Dr. Michael Jensen’s experimental treatment.
“What we hope to do is provide, in this trial, opportunity for children and young adults who are at that point in their battle with leukemia in which there are no further options,” said Dr. Jensen with Seattle Children's / Ben Towne Foundation.
Wright had reached that point.
The treatment involves reprogramming the patient’s disease-fighting T-cells in the lab and then deploying this elite team back into the patient.
“They divide and divide and divide, and they catch up with the leukemia,” said Dr. Jensen of the cells. “We see the leukemia just melt away.”
Dr. Jensen said that the phenomenon takes place within five to seven days.
Eventually, the goal is to cure leukemia without the need for a bone marrow transplant, and to be able to treat other childhood cancers.