IMM-101 drug has extended lives of people with metastatic pancreatic cancer and appears to have no side-effects
A new drug that “wakes up” the immune system to attack cancer has extended the lives of people with metastatic pancreatic cancer and has no side-effects, raising hopes for a new and powerful tool against the most intractable form of the disease.
The drug, IMM-101, is considered groundbreaking because pancreatic cancer that has spread to other parts of the body usually kills within a few months.
The patients who were given the new immunotherapy drug actually felt better than those who were on standard chemotherapy, said Angus Dalgleish, professor of oncology at St George’s, University of London, who led the research.
Dalgleish is excited by the potential of the immunotherapy drug, although the trial is relatively small, involving 110 people. Only 18% of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer are alive after one year and 4% after five years, so new treatments for the disease are badly needed.
Researchers have discovered a new target for treating treating multiple myeloma, an incurable bone marrow cancer.
The research revealed that the majority of myelomas rely on a protein called MCL-1 to stay alive. Potential drugs that inhibit MCL-1, which are in pre-clinical development, may be a promising new treatment for multiple myeloma.
Each year more than 1700 Australians are diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which is a cancer of immune cells called plasma cells. Currently available treatments are only able to halt the progression of the disease and relieve symptoms, but cannot cure the disease.
After a long, intense pursuit, researchers are close to bringing to market a daring new treatment: cell therapy that turbocharges the immune system to fight cancer.
BETHESDA, Md. — The young surgeon was mystified. A fist-size tumor had been removed from the stomach of his patient 12 years earlier, but his doctors had not been able to cut out many smaller growths in his liver. The cancer should have killed him, yet here he lay on the table for a routine gallbladder operation.
The surgeon, Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, examined the man’s abdominal cavity, sifting his liver in his fingers, feeling for hard, dense tumors — but he could find no trace of cancer.
It was 1968. Dr. Rosenberg had a hunch he had just witnessed an extraordinary case in which a patient’s immune system had vanquished cancer. Hoping there was an elixir in the man’s blood, Dr. Rosenberg got permission to transfuse some of it into a patient dying of stomach cancer. The effort failed. But it was the beginning of a lifelong quest.
Some of the most promising advances in cancer research in recent years involve treatments known as immunotherapy. These advances are spurring billions of dollars in investment by drug companies, and are leading to hundreds of clinical trials. Here are answers to some basic questions about this complex and rapidly evolving field.
What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy refers to any treatment that uses the immune system to fight diseases, including cancer. Unlikechemotherapy, which kills cancer cells, immunotherapy acts on the cells of the immune system, to help them attack the cancer.
What are the types of immunotherapy?
Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors are the most widely used form of immunotherapy for cancer. They block a mechanism that cancer cells use to shut down the immune system. This frees killer T-cells — a critically important part of the immune system — to attack the tumor. Four checkpoint inhibitors have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are on the market. They are given intravenously.
The discovery of a tumor-protecting role for a fatty acid found in fish oil has sparked debate about the product’s safety.
Emile Voest, a professor of medical oncology and medical director of The Netherlands Cancer Institute, has spent his career studying the tumor microenvironment—cancer’s cellular backdrop, implicated in everything from a tumor’s structural support to its protection from the immune system and its resistance to cancer-treating drugs.
But it came as some surprise, Voest says, when, in the mid-2000s, he and his colleagues identified two obscure polyunsaturated fatty acids—16:4(n-3) and KHT—that seemed to induce chemoresistance in tumor-bearing mice. “It was not what I was expecting at all,” says Voest. “We had no clue what fatty acids were [or] how they worked.”
The researchers found that human mesenchymal stem cells (multipotent stromal cells already implicated in drug resistance) injected into tumor-bearing mice began secreting these fatty acids when the animals were administered cisplatin—a platinum-based drug used to treat various types of cancer. These platinum-induced fatty acids (PIFAs) had no effect on tumor growth, but neutralized the cytotoxic effects of cisplatin on tumor cells, hinting at a possible mechanism of chemoresistance in human patients receiving platinum-based therapies.
An international panel of doctors has decided that a type of tumor that was classified as a cancer is not a cancer at all.
As a result, they have officially downgraded the condition and thousands of patients will be spared removal of their thyroid, treatment with radioactive iodine and regular checkups for the rest of their lives, all to protect against a tumor that was never a threat.
Their conclusion — and the data that led to it — are reported Thursday in the journal JAMA Oncology. The change is expected to affect about 10,000 of the nearly 65,000 thyroid cancer patients a year in the United States. It may also offer grist to those who have been arguing for the reclassification of some other forms of cancer, including certain lesions in the breast and prostate.
This is unprecedented’ says researcher after more than half of terminally ill blood cancer patients experienced complete remission in early clinical trials
Scientists are claiming “extraordinary” success with engineering immune cells to target a specific type of blood cancer in their first clinical trials.
Among several dozen patients who would typically have only had months to live, early experimental trials that used the immune system’s T-cells to target cancers had “extraordinary results”.
In one study, 94% of participants with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) saw symptoms vanish completely. Patients with other blood cancers had response rates greater than 80%, and more than half experienced complete remission.