When Milton Wright III got his third cancer diagnosis, he cried until he laughed. He was 20 and had survived leukemia twice before, first when he was eight and again as a teen. Each time he’d suffered through years of punishing chemotherapy.
In 2013 his cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, was destroyed with a new type of treatment in which cells from his immune system, called T cells, were removed from his blood, genetically engineered to target his cancer, and then dripped back into his veins.
In 90 percent of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia that has returned and resists regular drugs, the cancer goes away. The chance of achieving remission in these circumstances is usually less than 10 percent.
Those results explain why a company called Juno Therapeutics raised $304 million when it went public in December, 16 months after its founding.