Researchers at Royal Perth Hospital have helped uncover a new drug that can cure a type of aggressive Leukemia.
The immunotherapy is so effective they’ve dubbed it “the magic bullet”.
Retiree Howard Kurth, 80, was diagnosed with the cancer, called Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, two years ago. He says he was given just days to live.
“There was absolutely no sign of tiredness or soreness or anything,” he said.
“It was just a shot out of the blue.”
The grandfather was riddled with the deadly disease which had made its way through more than 90 percent of his body.
His health was so bad he wasn’t eligible for typical chemotherapy. But – thanks to the new treatment – he’s just celebrated his 80th birthday.
Mr Kurth went into remission within four months of starting the treatment and is still in remission now, two years on.
“I thought, ‘Well, I am going to beat this, there’s no two ways about it’, and so far I have,” he said.
The so-called magic bullet includes two pills taken every day and a small injection of chemotherapy seven days a month. It’s a form of immunotherapy that works by targeting mutant proteins in the blood. Mr Kurth is the first patient in Australia to undergo the treatment.
RPH is the only hospital in the country taking part in the world first study.
Dr Peter Tan, from Royal Perth Hospital, says they are now using the results to personalise treatments.
“What we’re trying to find are certain markers to personalise treatment for patients as we know a one-size-fits-all doesn’t help everybody,” he said.
Dr Tan believes this discovery could transform the way other cancers are treated in the future.
“We think it will change the standard therapy and once it does become available for all patients, it will be the new gold standard across the world,” he said.
Royal Perth Hospital will be conducting more trials on the drug and is looking for more patients to take part.
The treatment is not expected to be available to the public for around five years.