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06th Nov 2015

“Miracle” baby is cancer free after new treatment

Sharyn Hayden

A one-year-old patient at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London is the first in the world to receive ‘designer’ genetic cell modification treatment, which appears to have successfully eliminated her cancer.

Layla Richards was diagnosed with the most common form of childhood cancer, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, when she was just fourteen weeks old.

She was originally treated with both chemotherapy and bone marrow treatment, both of which had been unsuccessful, and her parents had begun the process of looking into end-of-life palliative care.

As a last effort, the family were then offered an experimental treatment under development at the hospital, whereby doctors modified white cells from a donor to seek out and kill the drug-resistant leukaemia. The treatment was administered as a small blood transfusion.

“She was sick and in lots of pain so we had to do something,” her father Ashleigh Richards, 30, said.
“Doctors explained that even if we could try the treatment, there was no guarantee that it would work but we prayed it would.”

A few short weeks later, Layla’s parents were given the amazing news that the treatment had worked.

Doctors say that Layla was a perfect candidate for this treatment as she was such a strong little girl who had been able to handle her previous treatments very well.

But while this news gives great hope to other parents who have sick children, doctors also stressed that they are reluctant to say that Layla is ‘cured’ until she is cancer-free for a number of years.

In the meantime, our fingers are crossed for this incredible little girl and the pioneering treatment that saved her life.