All of us have an immune system. When we have a cut, cold virus or other damage to our body then our immune system responds and fights the problem. It is normal for our cells to divide and multiply. However, if one our cells divides abnormally then cancer cells can develop. Because these cancer cells are part of our body, our immune system does not recognize them.
Immunology covers a range of possible cancer treatments (also known as biological therapy or biotherapy). These treatments target the cancer cells. Special drugs are being created that stimulate the T-cells (the good cells in our bodies) to find and attack tumors (cancerous cells). Vaccines are also being developed that have a similar effect.
Immunology drugs are reported by the medical profession as generally very effective and well tolerated by our bodies. Existing immunology drugs address relatively few types of cancer today. However, new drugs, approved by the FDA; in clinical trials; or available in other countries are in development.
At ImmunoDigest.com, we will provide information on successful patient case histories in the hope that the success of others will provide a path to a cure for our readers.
Beverly, a middle-aged woman in Missouri, had a 3D mammography and a tiny spot was discovered in June 2016. She had an immediate lumpectomy, then chemotherapy in September through to January 2017. Then she began radiation until March 2017. At this point, doctors, in discussion with Beverly, decided to try a series of infusions with an immunotherapy drug called Herceptin or trastuzumab. Beverly completed her last infusion in August 2017.
Herceptin is effective against tumors like Beverly’s that overexpress the HER2/neu protein and has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
A 53-year old woman with breast cancer had a right modified radical mastectomy. She was treated with surgery and numerous drugs from June 2015 to May 2016, but the disease continued to progress. In July 2016 she started a phase II clinical trial or nab-paclitaxel with pembrolizumab. Following the first dose, the patient’s status improved dramatically. After two doses, this patient had a rapid eradication of a large tumor mass and visceral metastases. As of February 2017, our last update, she was continuing to do well.
Various doctors New York University School of Medicine Perlmutter Cancer Center
Tom had terrible stomach pains. It was only with great difficulty that he could swim or climb a set of stairs. “Tests revealed a tumor the size of a quarter on his small intestine. He underwent surgery and chemotherapy. The cancer spread to this liver and kidneys. His diagnosis: Stage 4 melanoma which was typically fatal within a year. Then he was introduced to Yervoy and his tumors began to melt away. Nine years later Tom is still alive.
David Lane Scientific Director Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, New YorkJames Allison Head of Immunology University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston TXBert Vogelstein Director Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins Cancer Center, Baltimore MD
Richard was diagnosed in 2008 at the age of 43. He underwent two surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy. But tumors spread to his lung and spine. In 2011, he enrolled in a study of Yorvay. “After his fourth treatment at Dana Farber, scans showed his tumor had shrunk. But is “wasn’t working” and he was taken off the study. Dr. Hodi put Richard in a study of Keytruda in March 2012. By August 2012, there wasn’t any evidence of disease on his scans…” “I was on the two clinical trials and I was kicked off two clinical trials…you wouldn’t expect that I would be the pot of gold.”
Dr. F. Stephen Hodi Director of the Melanoma Center Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston MA
Richard, a veterinarian in Ozark, Alabama discovered a mole on his back that had begun bleeding. It was melanoma and soon progressed to his lung and liver. His father had died of melanoma and he knew his future was bleak. Richard enrolled in a trial that lead to a drug called Yervoy. Within two months, the tumors were shrinking. Years later, “his cancer has stabilized.”
F. Stephen Hodi Director of the Melanoma Center Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston MAWalter J. Urba Director of Cancer Research Providence Cancer Center, Portland OR