New therapy hopes to 'train' immune cells to fight cancer

Published: Mar. 17, 2016 at 12:48 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2016 at 9:00 PM CDT
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Up until a year ago, 64-year-old Ed Foster, was a practicing doctor and an avid hunter. Today he is battling lymphoma

Foster is about to undergo the first ever cancer treatment of its kind. It's called car t-cell therapy.

"We're taking some of the patients own immune cells, bringing them into a laboratory, and then in the laboratory basically training those cells to fight the cancer." Dr. Jonathan Friedberg is the director of Wilmot Cancer Center says.
Dr. Friedberg also says it's possible that this treatment may even ultimately replace chemotherapy or radiation for many of these patients.
The national study involves 16 cancer centers.

Doctors Patrick Reagan and Jonathan Friedberg say the treatment has proved effective before but it is somewhat of a last resort after
radiation and chemotherapy haven't worked. The question some doctors and patients have is could this potentially be deadly if it goes wrong?
Dr. Patrick Reagan says, "That's an important point that we discussed at length, these are very serious side effects and can result in death."
Ed Foster thinks it's worth the risk. He says, "I'm being offered a therapy that's a cutting-edge therapy. we're very optimistic that it's going to give me an opportunity that I wouldn't have otherwise had."
Doctors say this is one of the most powerful treatments to emerge in modern medicine.

Copyright 2016 WSFA 12 News/ NBC  All rights reserved.