Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More on Immunotherapy

I have to say, it's very frustrating being able to write so little. I have to write a lot for my job, and it stiffens up my shoulder a lot, so by the time I get around to the blog, I just don't have much left in me. I'll get MRI results tomorrow.

But today was a snow day, so I'm working from home, and I have the flexibility to sneak in a quick blog entry before I get back to the other stuff.

A few days ago, the Cancer Research Institute published a piece on their blog called "Cancer Immunotherapy: The Next Decade?" Seemed kind of timely, with Science magazine calling immunotherapy their Breakthrough of the Year a few weeks ago, and Dr. R bringing up anti-PD1 treatments when I saw him last week.

The writer, Matthew Tontonoz, asked some leading cancer researchers what they though lay ahead for cancer research. He describes them as having "A level of optimism that would not have been the case just five years ago."
a level of optimism that would not have been the case just five years ago.  - See more at:
Cancer Immunotherapy: The Next Decade?

What do they see? One sees combinations of immunotherapy treatments (inlcuding anti-PD1), working together to do an even better job than they do alone. (This is an old strategy, but with some exciting new pieces to work with.)

Another sees more anti-PD1-like treatments being developed. Right now, there are as many as 35 ligands and receptors that have been identified, but only two treatments that target them (anti-PD1 being one of them). (A ligand is a substance on the surface of a molecule that binds with another substance, and the combination usually acts as a trigger for another process. Anti-PD1 binds and triggers a shut off. The cancer cell blocks the T cell that would normally kill the cancer cell. The anti-PD1 blocks that block, and tells the T cell to do its job.) So there are potentially another 33 ligands that could do something similar.

There is also some cancer vaccine research that people are excited about.

Finally -- and perhaps most interestingly -- researchers are looking again at traditional radiation and chemotherapy, and discovering more about how they work. Apparently, in addition to killing cancer cells directly, they may also release antigens -- receptors that the body's immune system can attach to to help kill off the cancer cells.

As for Immunotherapy, one researcher believes we have only covered about 2% of what Immunotherapy has the potential to do for us. So that makes for a pretty exciting future.

And while this article discusses Immunotherapy very broadly, if you'd like to read more about anti-PD1 in lymphoma, the good folks at updated their section on that topic just a couple of days ago. Clear explanations, and lots of links to explore (including a link to an entry on this blog, which I appreciate.)

Coming soon: another update on my health.

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