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A new cutting-edge treatment for a deadly disease

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DETROIT – While researchers work to cure cancer, a new approach using immunotherapy is helping patients with some of the deadliest cancers.

To learn more about it, Local 4's Dr. Frank McGeorge spent time at the Karmanos Cancer Institute.

While there, he talked with Tony Quinn.

Quinn is a college professor specializing in immunology, he also has pancreatic cancer.

"Buying time was important, recognizing that that's what you're doing is buying time, but enjoying it," Quinn said.

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The first thing someone diagnosed with cancer often does is to "Google" it. For pancreatic cancer, they'll find  the average life expectancy with advanced disease is just three to six months. Quinn took an aggressive approach, and nine months later, he's alive, back to work, and appreciating every day he wakes up to.

What did he do? He underwent immunotherapy with Dr. Lawrence Lum at the Karmanos Cancer Institute.

"We took his own live cells expanded them and armed them so that they could be smart after we multiplied them many times in the laboratory.So, now we have an army of targeted cells going back into him," Lum said.

Because Quinn's treatment was a clinical trial, no one knows how he will do in the long term. But the time he has had, and its quality, has exceeded expectations.

Lum is positive that the same type of treatment will work for other cancers.

"I see immunotherapy being combined with the optimal (treatment) for various specific diseases so that you could actually turn some of these more lethal diseases into chronic diseases," Lum said.

Watch Dr. Frank McGeorge's full report in the video player above.