The New Promising Cancer Treatment Relies On Our Own Immune System
Imagine a world that has an effective cure for cancer. A world where cancer is no longer associated with chronic illness and death. Although this concept may be difficult to imagine, new developments in cancer research have researchers extremely hopeful about a cure for cancer. According to The Guardian, immunotherapy is the most promising development in cancer research in years. In the past five years, this treatment has steadily been yielding positive results during testing. Since most cancer research is hitting a wall, this new promising treatment is sparking intense excitement in the cancer research field. Unfortunately, many of the current chemotherapy drugs have little effect on people with advanced stages of cancer. These drugs usually only extend life for a few weeks or a few months for these patients.
The New England Journal of Medicine details a study conducted by Royal Marsden hospital in London consisting of 945 terminally ill patients who were not expected to live more than a few months;however, the immunotherapy resulted in very positive results. In this trial, ipilimumab and nivolumab were used together and resulted in 58% of the patients’ tumors being shrunk. Ipilimumab and nivolumab were developed by Medarex, a biotech firm in New Jersey. This firm’s success was evident when in 2009, when Bristol-Myers Squibb bought this firm. Both of these “wonder” drugs are used in immunotherapy.
The American Association for Cancer Research explains how immunotherapy involves the T-cells of the human body. The T-cells protect the body from infection. However, cancer is able to trick these cells by producing a molecule that does not trigger the normal response of the T-cells. As a result, the cancer continues to grow. Immunotherapy is successful because nivolumab attaches to the T-cell preventing the cancer cell from being able to elude the normal response of the body. Therefore, the T-cells attack the cancer cells and destroys them, and the drug, ipilimumab encourages more T-cells to be produced, so the cancer is attacked and the cancer cells implode and are destroyed.
Although immunotherapy is proving to be a promising new way to treat cancer, there are still some challenges. According to Dr. Alan Worsley who works at Cancer Research UK, the combination of the two drugs together does produce some serious side effects, so it is important to identify which patients will benefit the most from this therapy. A number of patients do not continue the trial experiments because they become so sick from the immunotherapy. Another pertinent question is how long the drugs used in immunotherapy will keep the cancer paralyzed. In the past, drugs have slowed down the progression of cancer, but these drugs have not cured the disease. Immunotherapy is proving to be promising, and the medical and research community is hopeful that the therapy will completely banish the disease by teaching the body how to destroy all of the cancer cells.
Immunotherapy: the big new hope for cancer treatment| Theguardian
Combined Nivolumab and Ipilimumab or Monotherapy in Untreated Melanoma| NEJM
A Novel Class of Anticancer Compounds Targets the Actin Cytoskeleton in Tumor Cells| aacrjournals