The Revival of Cancer Immunotherapy

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    Apr 18, 2014 9:49 PM GMT
    http://www.technologyreview.com/news/526001/the-revival-of-cancer-immunotherapy/

    An old idea for treating cancer is yielding impressive results on cancer patients—and lots of attention from drug companies.

    “This is not a garden-variety cancer treatment development program,” says Roger Perlmutter, an immunologist who heads R&D at Merck. “This looks special at this stage,” he says.

    Merck’s compound is an antibody, a Y-shaped biological molecule that grabs onto a specific protein. The target protein normally prevents immune cells from attacking cancer. By blocking the activity of that protein, the antibody frees the immune cell to fight the disease. Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and others are also developing antibodies to release such brakes on the immune system.

    New details of how these compounds work and for whom will be presented by many groups involved in the new push for cancer immunotherapy at this year’s American Association for Cancer Research meeting, in San Diego. The conference, which started on Saturday, is the largest meeting of oncologists and oncology researchers in the world. Although researchers express excitement about the potential for immune-modulating medicines to combat cancer—some experts even use the word “cure”—many caution that it will take time to fully understand how well the treatments are working.
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    Apr 19, 2014 3:37 PM GMT
    These types of treatments have been tried before, and frankly "taking the breaks off the immune system" can cause many many problems such as autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis, crohns and colitis but to name a few.

    To be any good these will have to show they can target ONLY the intended recipient cells and tissues, without causing any of these problems.

    The immune system is equisitely complex with many many cytokines and other intra-cellular signalling molecules contributing to our cellular and humoral immunity.

  • jlly_rnchr

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    Apr 19, 2014 11:46 PM GMT
    This type of stuff is far more exciting than worrisome. The field of cell-biology has exploded somewhat recently with really creative ways of fighting disease. In Philly and New York hospitals are hijacking a stripped down version of HIV to seek out malignant T-cells and kill them. Or flooding a patient's CNS with nanoparticles to turn off the autoimmune attack in MS. The list goes on. There are so many amazing technologies that are less than a decade away from release.
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    Apr 20, 2014 9:14 AM GMT
    jlly_rnchr saidThis type of stuff is far more exciting than worrisome. The field of cell-biology has exploded somewhat recently with really creative ways of fighting disease. In Philly and New York hospitals are hijacking a stripped down version of HIV to seek out malignant T-cells and kill them. Or flooding a patient's CNS with nanoparticles to turn off the autoimmune attack in MS. The list goes on. There are so many amazing technologies that are less than a decade away from release.


    That's always the promise of what's just over the hill, and what's just around the corner. However until all the players are identified and understood that a pretty dangerous leap of faith. Cancer isn't one disease or one tissue, p53, BRCA, mid sense mutations, how viral infections influence cancer develop show that it's not that straightforward- how are the NKs going to be able to indentify the different receptors expressed by a mutation say on neurons and myoctyes because I tell you these wont have the same? How are you then going to turn off those rampaging cells?

    There is still Far to many unknowns- you only have to look at some clinical trials in the Uk a few years ago that left the previously healthy volunteers in a bad way