Cardinal George Dropped from Clinical Trial of New Cancer Drug

Cardinal Francis George has been dropped from the clinical trial of a new drug which doctors had hoped would strengthen the Cardinal’s immune system in his ongoing battle against cancer, the Archdiocese of Chicago said Wednesday.

“Recent scans showed that this experimental drug has not been effective in his case, but the physicians and others who are overseeing this trial assured him that the information that they had gathered during his course of treatment will be of benefit to others,” the archdiocese said in a statement.

George began treatments with the drug, known as MPDL3280A last August, through the University of Chicago hospitals.

“It’s purpose is exactly the opposite of chemo,” the Cardinal told NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern in October. “Chemo destroys fast-growing cells, therefore cancer cells. This does just the opposite. It reinforces the immune system to directly attack cancer cells as foreign bodies.”

A source close to the Cardinal says he learned that the drug was having no effect just before Christmas, and that he will now go back to “traditional treatments” at Loyola University Medical Center.

George met with physicians at Loyola University Hospital in January to discuss ways to address some of the side effects of his cancer, which so far has not spread to any vital organs, the archdiocese said.

The Archdiocesan statement noted that the former Archbishop “is at peace, but he counts on everyone prayers that he might be of service to the Lord and His Church in the time left to him.”

The Cardinal’s Facebook page announced the news today, and there were dozens of comments from parishoners, offering support and promising prayers. In the October interview, George expressed gratitude that so many were remembering him.

“First it means they are praying, and secondly they’re praying for me,” he said. “I’m very grateful for it, and I pray every day for all the people God has given me to love.”

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