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Information is Power!

One last (for now) immunotherapy follow-up: Hope for skin, lung and kidney cancer patients, too!

Well that didn’t take long!  About the same time NBC News and the entire press core at ASCO were reporting about the new breast cancer immunotherapy breakthrough, T-DM1, positive news about the performance of several other therpies which use antibodies to help trick a patient’s immune system into destroying cancer cells that they have otherwise been ignoring.

An experimental drug, BMS-936558, looks to be another rising star.  Researchers working with this monoclonal antibody–which is being funded by Bristol-Meyers–say it blocks a protein called PD-1, enabling our body’s own immune system to destroy now unprotected cancer cells.

And apparently, BMS-936558 isn’t the only new drug being aimed at the PD-1 target.

Listen.  This is important, complicated stuff–much more so than I usually blog about here,  But Andrew Pollack, a well known medical writer for the New York Times, has written an excellent, comprehensive article about immunotherapies and the latest developments from ASCO.  You might note that he doesn’t even mention the similar T-DM1.  There is so much to cover here in so little time.  But  he knows a lot more about the specifics of immunotherapies than I do. 

So I have taken the liberty to include a few important excerpts from his N.Y. Times article yesterday:

Drug Helps Defense System Fight Cancer

By Andrew Pollack – Published: June 1, 2012

CHICAGO — One of the great frustrations for researchers in the war on cancer is that the body’s own defense system does not do a better job fighting the disease. Tumors, it turns out, have a molecular shield that repels attacks from the immune system.

Dr. Suzanne L. Topalian

Now, a new study says, an experimental drug is showing promise in disabling that shield, unleashing the immune system and causing shrinkage of some lung, skin and kidney cancers that had defied treatment with existing drugs.

“We are seeing responses in heavily treated patients — three different cancers, one drug,” Dr. Suzanne L. Topalian, a melanoma specialist at Johns Hopkins University and lead investigator in the study, said in an interview. “This is a group of patients whose life expectancy was measured in a few months.”

It sounds like Dr. Topalian is excited!  But let’s not forget that there is a lot of money at stake here, too.  So you can bet something that gets researchers excited is hard to keep secet, especially when there is so much money at stake for the fist company that can get one of these drugs approved.

Keeping that in mind, other pharmaceutical companies “pursuing drugs that block the action of PD-1 include Merck; the Genentech unit of Roche; GlaxoSmithKline, working with a small Maryland company called Amplimmune; and Teva working with an Israeli biotech company, CureTech.”

You should really read the entire article.  CLICK HERE and you can!

I will get back to some interesting nutritional news tomorrow.  In the meantime, consider this:  Focusing anti-cancer research on a variety of immunotherapeutic possibilities may be the most efficient and cost effective way to truly slow down many different types of cancers.

Important, hopeful news!  Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

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Andrew Pollack, ASCO, BMS-936558, Dr. Suzanne L. Topalian, immunotherapy, new york times News, Research

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