Huynh Cao –the MD (Managing Director) at Loma Linda University Health, firsthand witnessed the side-effects of chemotherapy after his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer by doctors in 1995. The chemotherapy, as observed by Huynh Cao, was quite difficult on his mother’s body. Cao claims that the treatment was partly responsible for causing a significant level of acute leukemia in his mother’s body. This was especially observed even after the bone marrow transplant and more chemotherapy sessions – finally claiming his mother’s life in the year 2010.
The overall experience of Cao’s mother during her cancer journey is something that led to the “life’s work” which he dedicated at Loma Linda University Health. During his study, Cao was capable of developing an effective, low-impact treatment for treating acute leukemia lacking the side effects of the current treatment options.
Cao recently became an assistant professor at School of Medicine through his completion of the 4-year oncology and hematology fellowship in the year 2017. He states, “My family went through the journey of my mother’s treatment throughout the tenure. Given the harsh treatment of chemotherapy, and other sessions, we just hope that we are moving towards something that appears less harsh on the patient’s body.”
Currently, Cao along with his team are investigating how Vitamin D is capable of promoting the deadly leukemia cells to get mature – and eventually, die off. The overall treatment is just like the normal body cells. Quite contrary to the normal body cells having a finite lifespan, the cancer cells tend to be immortal effectively. As such, these immortal cells lead to causing diseases like leukemia when they grow unchecked.
In the given method by Cao & his team, there is the involvement of a specific gene that is capable of converting inactive Vitamin D to its active form. Cao claims that he makes use of the stem cells for carrying the particular gene to the body’s bone marrow. The modified cell is known for activating the surrounding Vitamin D. This, in turn, prompts the surrounding leukemia cells to get matured. As the leukemia cells are no longer immortal, they are able to resume the normal lifespan and eventually, die off.
This treatment procedure by Cao & his team can serve to be a breakthrough in creating new hope for the patients having acute leukemia.
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