Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Benefits of Immunotherapy: Enhancing Patient Immunity to Fight Cancer

Despite the fact that they are toxic and carcinogenic, chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery (the “Big 3”) are widely accepted as the standard treatments for cancer.  Additional drugs are utilized to stop the growth of cancer cells, treat side effects from the chemo and radiation, and manage pain. Throughout “traditional” cancer treatment, the patient’s body is under attack by the disease and by medical attempts to kill the disease. It is exhausting, dangerous, and the side effects are substantial.

Over the past century, despite their abysmal success rates, the “Big 3” treatments have gradually been accepted by the medical community at large as the “standard of care” for treating cancer. Although they are thought of as “traditional,” they actually are quite new treatments, whereas the treatments that are thought of as “alternative” (such as herbal remedies) have been used for thousands of years. Partly due to this bastardizing of the true meaning of these words and partly due to the vast revenues that they generate, the “Big 3” treatments have become the “norm” – unlike most preventative, alternative, and complementary therapies that do not increase industry profit.

The Science of Immunotherapy

A new treatment has caught the attention of scientists and doctors. Initial results for the patient are incredible. It’s called immunotherapy and the goal is to empower your own immune system to beat cancer. Those interested in the field of immunology recognize the power of the human body. They’d like to put it to work…doing what it does best.

Director of the Cancer Immunology Program, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Drew Pardoll, PhD, explained, “After years of research in this field, we began to learn that tumors resisted being eliminated by the patient’s immune system by co-opting inhibitory pathways, thus putting the brakes on the immune response. In fact, the tumors could highly upregulate [increase the response of] molecules that would stop a T cell in its tracks and protect the cancer.”

Immunotherapy involves engineering or enhancing the immune cells of the cancer patient to wipe out cancer cells. This therapy is also called adoptive cell transfer (ACT). Initial clinical trial results have been remarkable. Significant improvement to overall patient health, elimination of the cancer cells, and remaining cancer free. Though experts agree that many more studies will need to be done, there is no doubt that the human immune system is up to the challenge if given the right tools.

The Living Drug

Immunotherapy is considered the “living drug.” Its building blocks are T-cells, which are collected from the blood of the patient. These cells are then altered to create “special receptors” referred to as chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). These CARs are a type of protein that enables the T-cells to attack the antigen – the protein found in cancer cells.

These engineered T-cells are cultured in the lab and allowed to grow to billions in number. Then the CAR T-cells are injected into the patient where, if everything goes well, the T-cells will reproduce, seek out cancer cell antigens, and destroy them.

Experimentation on T-cells began in the 1990s when researchers considered it for new cancer treatment.  Scientists utilized viral vectors that are deprived of their capacity to produce illness but are still able to join with human DNA to provide the genetic material required for the creation of T-cell receptors.

Second and third generations of CARs have monoclonal antibodies, referred to as “single-chain variable fragments” (scFv), which inhabit the surface of the T-cell membrane and associate with the “stimulatory molecules” within the T-cell. The scFv guides the T-cell toward its target – the antigen. Once the T-cell is linked to the antigen, the stimulatory molecules activate the T-cells to annihilate the cancer cells.

Today, researchers and specialists are finding ways to generate more powerful T-cells that will completely eliminate cancer cells from the patient’s body.

To read the rest of the article and find out the about the benefits and side effects of Immunotherapy – go to this link -

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