This medical video explores the new technologies opening up to help treat leukemia.
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Jennifer Matthews: To David Wildrick, the diagnosis of leukemia sounded like a death sentence. David Wildrick: I wasn't happy about what they told me they were going to do to me. They told me they were going to give me chemotherapy. I'd have to be there six weeks. They were going to take my immune system down to zero and then bring it back up. Jennifer Matthews: Then he got a second opinion at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he works. Dr. Elihu Estey: I would guess that without treatment, everybody would be dead within a few months. Jennifer Matthews: With the new treatment, researchers take ATRA -- which is a form of vitamin A -- wrap it in fat, and inject it. It could eliminate the need for chemo. David welcomed the new option. David Wildrick: They administer it through an IV line in your arm. It took a couple of hours, and then, really, the only side effect from it was a headache. Jennifer Matthews: He later had an allergic reaction to the drug. It won't work for everyone, but Lipo-ATRA did keep 10 of the 34 patients in remission for several years without the toxic effects of chemotherapy. Dr. Elihu Estey; It's, I think, probably the first demonstration in the field of leukemia that you can cure patients without giving them chemotherapy. Jennifer Matthews: Doctor Estey says there are still side effects with Lipo-ATRA, and it may not offer many advantages over chemo at this time. However, he says Lipo-ATRA represents what the future of leukemia treatment could look like. Dr. Elihu Estey: The fact that we did the Liposomal ATRA study was that the thing said, 'Gee, it's plausible to do this, to defer chemotherapy and still wind up okay.' Jennifer Matthews: And he says that's a step in the right direction. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.