Innovative treatment for cancer patients who have previously undergone chemotherapy, surgery or radiotherapy

At the inauguration of Hadassah's new day care center of the Sidney Weisner Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cancer Immunotherapy today, Prof. Shimon Slavin, head of the department, described an innovative treatment for cancer patients who have previously undergone chemotherapy, surgery and/ or radiotherapy.

The treatment, currently available only at Hadassah, is based on the use of lymphocytes taken from any donor, whether or not the patient's and donor's tissues match. Through a laboratory treatment, these cells are turned into 'cancer Killers'. After transfusion, these cells seek out and destroy any of the patient's remaining cancer cells that survived previous anti-cancer therapies. This treatment is carried out in the Day Care Center of the Bone Marrow Transplantation Department at Hadassah, on an outpatient basis.

The Center, which was inaugurated today in its new premises in the Ullman Building at the Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Kerem, cares for some 4000 patients a year. It was constructed with special attention to amenities and patient comfort, it's wide windows face the magnificent view of the Jerusalem hills.

Adjacent to the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cancer Immunotherapy, the center attracts patients from all over the world, and offers innovative and exclusive treatments in the fields of cell therapy for cancer and anti-cancer vaccination.

“Utilization of the immune system in the battle against malignant cells by this method sometimes makes it possible to overcome residual disease, even in patients with otherwise resistant cancer cells.”, said Prof. Slavin. He stressed that "the focus should be on "smarter" rather than "stronger" anti-cancer modalities. By these means it is possible, in principle, to defeat the malignant processes if applied at the stage of minimal disease, and yet to maintain the patients’ quality of life.

"It is also possible to bind specific antibodies to these killer cells, that enable them to aim directly for the malignant cells, thereby enhancing their efficacy while minimizing the danger of damage to the patient’s normal cells."

This treatment using 'killer cancer cells', is not included in the basket of medication provided by the National Health Insurance Law.

Prof. Slavin is optimistic of the results of these therapeutic measures, especially in patients with residual disease, and patients in danger of relapse.

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