Immunotherapy – the end of cancer?
WHATS IN THIS BLOG:
• What is the immune system and immunotherapy?
• How many successful immunotherapy drugs?
• Judy Perkins’ amazing cure.
WHAT IS IMMUNOTHERAPY?
The immune system is designed to mount an offense against unwanted intrusions in the body: bacteria, viruses, cancer cells.
Cancer however is tricky. Malignant cancer cells develop from normal cells that grow out of control. And the immune system is programmed NOT to attack the body’s own cells.
Scientists have found ways to retrain the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Two of them just shared a Nobel prize – Dr James Allison of MD Anderson Cancer Center and Dr Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University. Back in the 1990s they independently discovered ways in which the immune system is blocked from attacking cancer cells. I wrote a blog about Dr Allison’s work HERE.
HOW MANY SUCCESSFUL IMMUNOTHERAPY DRUGS?
In the past five years, the FDA has approved twelve new cancer drugs that exploit the immune system. They work for only some cancers, including melanoma, lung, and blood cancers. Melanoma is what President Jimmy Carter had that metastasized to his brain.
In contrast, no new drugs have been approved for breast cancer, as the problem is more difficult to solve. But there are something like 3,000 experimental trials on cancer immunotherapy treatments around the world… so the drugs are sure to be coming to cure harder cancers such as breast, colon and prostate.
There are three different approaches to get the body’s immune system to attack and kill cancer cells, and these are explained nicely in the video HERE. When finished, stop the video and then hit back-arrow to return to blog article.
One of these approaches is extraordinary. Dr Steven Rosenberg treated Judy Perkins, aged 49, who had stage IV breast cancer with lumps in her chest and liver – golf ball sized lumps. He found four types – just four of many types of immune cells – that were attacking the cancer tumors but were overwhelmed. He extracted these and multiplied them in the lab and reinjected 90 billion of them by IV.
Within a month, Perkins felt her chest tumor shrinking. Within two months, all her tumors had shriveled to nothing. Its now nearly three years later and Perkins is still in regression, and kayaking around Florida.
However, Perkins is an exception. Only 14% of 42 people Rosenberg has treated have responded as Perkins has. But Rosenberg believes the odds will improve as the science evolves.
I wrote a blog about Judy Perkin’s amazing cancer cure HERE.
But its better told in a video. To see the video click HERE. When finished, stop the video and then hit back-arrow to return to blog article.
According to Dr Allison, “All cancer patients will likely receive immunotherapy in five years, and its going to cure a lot of them.” Wow! That’s some statement. But a reason for lots of optimism for cancer sufferers.
PS: some of this information is taken from an article in Time Magazine, Unlocking the Body’s Defenses, October 15, 2018.
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