First Mid-South patient sees success from newly approved cancer treatment

Updated: May. 23, 2019 at 4:10 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -A newly FDA-approved cancer treatment is proving to be a game-changer for the future of medicine. In November, Methodist University Hospital announced its Blood and Marrow Transplant Center is among the few chosen by the FDA to use the new therapy.

“I feel fine! I feel really good,” said Kenny Parish, patient.

Though, it was only ten months ago a Jonesboro doctor diagnosed Kenny Parish with stage four Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“I knew that lymphoma was fairly easily treatable but the one that I had was called a double hit lymphoma and it was resistant to the chemo,” said Parish.

After the first round of chemotherapy failed to fight the growing cancer inside Parish’s lungs his doctor sent him to Memphis. There, he met Dr. Yasser Khaled with Methodist Blood and Marrow Transplant Center.

The hospital is one of 100 transplant centers in the country to receive FDA approval for CAR T cell therapy.

“The quality of life has improved and the disease cured I can say for at least up to this point," said Dr. Yasser Khaled.

CAR T therapy works by collecting the patient’s T cells, a type of white blood cell, arming the T cells with antibodies, then re-infusing the cells back into the patient. Those cells then multiply and attack the tumor cell.

Doctors have seen results in two weeks, and 80 percent of patients see cancer gone in 30 days.

“The response is really amazing,” said Dr. Yasser Khaled. “They are cured from the disease.”

It’s news Parish hopes to hear next month, less than a year after his diagnosis.

“I can always tell if the lymphoma comes back. Right now, there’s no sign at all,” said Parish.

A brightness has returned to Parish’s life. The glow coming from a recent trip to the beach with his family, but also for the life he will now get to live thanks to the treatment.

A second Non-Hodgkin lymphoma patient is currently receiving the CAR T therapy. Right now, there are four other patients on the wait list. It takes an estimated three to four weeks to manufacture the cells once the T cells are collected before they can be re-infused into the patient.

Researchers are currently looking at using this same therapy to treat pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, and many others.

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