Leukemia patient all smiles after successful experimental treatment


by KING 5 HealthLink


Posted on June 18, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 18 at 6:16 PM

Seattle Children’s is continuing to show success with an experimental new treatment for leukemia. Meet the second patient to benefit by having his immune system reprogrammed in the lab.

Milton Wright shouldn’t even be alive right now, much less shooting hoops. He’s spent more than half his life dodging a more formidable opponent: leukemia.

“I always knew it was a possibility it could come back, but I was at the near the five year mark where it was not supposed to come back,” said Milton.

But it did come back for the third time. His mom remembers.

”It was horrible, it was awful and the next thing was how am I going to tell my 14, my 12 and my 8  year old that you know, we have to go through this again,” said Shannon Williams, Milton’s mother. “It was hard.”

The news would get even worse for this aspiring model. Milton had become resistant to chemo.

”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. Michael Jensen, Seattle Childrens.

Milton had reached that point. Game over - or so he thought.

”After your third time, they can’t do much for you and I’ve had friends in the past who got it again for the third time and they passed, so it was very relieving to hear,” he said.

He would become the second patient to get Dr. Jensen’s experimental treatment which involves reprogramming the patients disease-fighting T-cells in the lab and then deploying this elite team back into the patient.

”They divide and the divide and divide and divide and they catch up with the leukemia,” said Dr. Jensen.

And then it happens.

“We see the leukemia just melt away,” said Dr. Jensen. “We’re seeing the phenomenon take place within 5-7 days.”

“I feel like I’ve won the lotto,” said Shannon.

Today Milton is about to meet the scientists who made it possible. He has one burning question. His doctor said his T-cells were the best.

“What does that mean? To this day I still want to know what that means,” said Milton.

“They were pretty good. They took off like a rocket,” said Dr. Jensen.

And now Milton and his mom are over the moon.

Eventually the goal is to cure leukemia without the need for a bone marrow transplant and to be able to use this same approach to treat other childhood cancers as well.

The next clinical trial will focus on neuroblastoma, the most common cancer in infants.