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New therapy helps cancer patients at Medical College of Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The battle against cancer is fought on many fronts and at the Medical College of Wisconsin, they shared what may be a historic victory on Thursday.

"At one point, there were a lot of grim faces filling my hospital room."

Bret Carroll was fighting terminal lymphoma before he agreed to submit to a trial therapy. He's now in remission. His treatment was a form of what they call "Car-T Cell" therapy. Carroll was the first person to receive it.

The science is complex but to put it as simply as possible, the therapy converts a patient's own cells to become what doctors call "cancer assassins."

"It's your own immune system and it responds like any other infection that you have, but now it's been taught that cancer is an infection and it needs to fight it," said Bret Carroll.

"Really I think that this technology is just opening up doors, giving us a way to think about other ways to manage different types of cancers," said Dr. Nirav Shah with the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Doctors say so far this type of Car-T Cell Therapy seems to work best on blood cells. Research continues to see if this therapy can be harnessed to fight "solid" cancers like breast, colon, or pancreatic cancer.

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