The cervical cancer experiment conducted by US specialists was the first time immune therapy worked well against a cancer caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. One of the women whose tumors disappeared is Arrica Wallace from Kansas, who was 35 when her cancer was discovered. The strongest chemotherapy and radiation didn’t help Arrica, and doctors gave her less than a year to live. She enrolled in the study, and researchers removed one of her tumors, isolated special immune system cells that were attacking it, multiplied them in the lab and gave billions of them back to her in a one-time infusion. They also gave her medicine to boost her immune response.
It’s been 22 months since Arrica underwent treatment and her scans have been clean for 17 months. The second woman to have a complete response to the immune therapy has been cancer-free for 15 months. A third woman had tumor shrinkage that lasted three months. The other six women did not respond to treatment and researchers are now trying to figure out why. They are also trying the treatment on several dozen more women with advanced cervical cancer. American doctors have also reported success in using immune therapies against other types of cancer, such as leukemia and melanoma. Researchers are now trying to use the human body’s natural ability to fight HPV in treating bladder, lung, and other tumor types.