Increasingly, doctors are using their patients' own immune systems as valuable weapons against the disease.
|Scooped by Graham Player Ph.D.|
The focus of cancer research has been on exploring ways to treat the tumor. It is always enlightening to see research that focuses on treating the patient rather than only the tumor.
Scientists have long tried to understand how to get the immune system—the body’s natural defense mechanism—to recognize cancer cells as the enemy, and destroy them. This has led to the introduction of immunotherapy, which induces, enhances, or suppresses an immune system response to help treat the disease condition. Its focus is on using the body’s own immune system. In terms of cancer this is an interesting and growing area of study.
Cancer immunotherapy is used to provoke the immune system into attacking the tumor cells. Cancer cells have subtly different molecules on their surface that can be detected by the immune system. The focus of immunotherapy in treating cancer is based on cell-based therapies, antibody therapies, and cytokine therapies.
Oncologist Dr. David Maloney is one of the oncologists on the forefront of the next major advance in immunotherapy. He infuses lymphoma patients with their own T-cells, re-engineered to produce a chimeric antigen receptor (or CAR T-cells) that, once triggered, can eliminate cancer. Unlike antibodies, which are broken down by the body over time, CAR T-cells may continue to multiply, serving as a “living therapy” throughout a patient’s life— staying on guard for any subsequent relapses.