(ABC) -- There’s been a big breakthrough cancer treatment by using HIV drugs to fight cancer. The procedure is being presented at the American Society of Hematology, but only a dozen patients have tried it, including a little girl named Emma.
Emma Whitehead’s leukemia seemed unbeatable, with no treatments left and she was just six years old. Then, in April, doctors used HIV to cure, not kill.
Doctors took out millions of Emma’s disease fighting white blood cells, and then used a genetically altered HIV virus, which is great at getting into human immune systems to change those cells into targeted cancer fighters.
Emma’s cells went back in and destroyed the cancer.
Dr. Stephan Grupp is a pioneer, using HIV to infiltrate the immune system.
“All of the things that make the HIV virus able to cause disease have been removed from this particular virus, whose only purpose is to put a gene into a cell,” explained Dr. Grupp, Pediatric Oncologist, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It’s incredible.”
Eight months later, doctors can’t find any remaining cancer cells. Emma’s now busy counting the days until Christmas and her parents are busy counting their blessings.