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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – The very first federal approval of a gene therapy as a cancer treatment is being called an historic event.

The Food and Drug Administration approved a treatment that engineers a patient’s own blood cells to fight cancer. It’s the first type of gene therapy to hit the U.S. market.

It has already been used to treat children dying from leukemia, who are now cancer free.

“These are patients who have no prospect for long term disease control who get a single infusion of the cells and many of them remain in remission and require no other therapy, said Stephan Grupp, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania.

The treatment reprograms a patient’s own cells to destroy cancer, and then multiply to continue fighting disease for months or even years.