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The cancer 'guinea pigs' What would you endure to ultimately save your life? Or even thousands - maybe millions - of lives?

WAR IN THE BLOOD Sun 9pm BBC2 Having exhausted all other treatments for his leukaemia, Graham Threader agreed to join the first human trial of CAR T-cell therapy - hailed as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment.

But a long list of risks, from acute toxicity to death, made this no easy decision for him, and perhaps especially his family.

This powerful documentary following his 111 days on the trial will stay with you long after it ends.

As Graham approaches a Christmas he thought he'd never see, his wife gives him a guinea pig tree decoration. He struggles to see the funny side of it.

But otherwise Graham stays strong - and amazing, indefatigable, admirable - as he hopes to be cured and to help others in his position in the future.

'Like any other cancer patient I've met, you will fight to cling on to life,' the 52-year-old dad says as he prepares for the therapy. 'The trial could be brilliant or it could kill me. Someone's got to go first, right?' The feature-length film follows the dedicated team at London's UCL - led by Martin Pule and Dr Claire Roddie - over 18 months. We also follow the progress of Graham and the youngest patient on the trial, 18-year-old Mahmoud.

So much is at stake, and the film doesn't flinch from the pain the patients face as their treatment causes toxicity, or the harrowing emotions endured by them and their loved ones.

At one point, the therapy causes such an extreme reaction that Graham fears he is dying.

'I'd hate to think of him being used as an experiment,' says his wife Mellie.

But everyone keeps going because they know that the end result could be about so much more than these two very special patients.

How CAR T-cell therapy works CAR T-cell is a complex immunotherapy treatment. In War in the Blood, scientist Martin Pule explains how CAR T-cell therapy kills cancer cells. He illustrates it with a ping-pong ball, three balls and a USB stick.

Cancer cell Normal cells T-cells are part of our immune system. They hunt down and destroy cells that are infected with a virus. But because cancer cells are from normal cells, T-cells don't see them as an enemy.

In CAR T-cell therapy, some of the patient's blood is taken.

Then different DNA is added to the T-Cells in that blood - it's a bit like plugging a USB stick into your computer to install new software.

Rodger Jennifer When the blood is injected back into the patient, the modified T-cells should go to war with the cancer cells.

by: Words

Graham and Mahmoud were conscious they were taking part in something that wasn't proven beyond doubt yet. It is an altruistic act both of them were conscious of the bigger picture and it meant a huge amount to them. ARTHUR CARY War in the Blood's director

CAPTION(S):

Aged just 18, Mahmoud was the youngest trial patient

Graham - one of the CAR T-cell therapy patients

Dr Claire Roddie is leading the therapy trial

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 6, 2019
Words:507
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