Cautious Optimism in the Potential of Next Generation Vaccines

January 4, 2011

After living with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) for 14 years, James Smith (not his real name) faced a pivotal decision. Chemotherapy was no longer sufficient to keep his disease in remission; he had to choose between two next-stage treatment options.

One, a bone marrow transplant, had a 10 to 20 percent chance of life-threatening complications, a 50 percent chance of long-term remission, and required anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life.

The other was to participate in the pilot phase of a clinical trial using autologous cellular immunotherapy run by David L. Porter, MD, director of Blood and Marrow Transplantation.

Smith opted for number two.

As a scientist, “I understood the clinical protocols, the risks and the side effects. It was one of those things that should work based on the science, which looked solid,” said Smith, a married father of four adult children. But, he added, “that’s never a given when you’re talking about a biological system.” Read More