Category Archives: Immunotherapy for Cancer

Immunotherapy: 2017’s Top Clinical Advance for Cancer Treatment

Immunotherapy: 2017's Top Clinical Advance for Cancer Treatment
Immunotherapy: 2017’s Top Clinical Advance for Cancer Treatment

The use of immunotherapy for cancer has been around for a long time, but it’s becoming more and more common. In fact, this form of treatment was named the 2017 Clinical Cancer Advance of the Year, which was mainly due to the increase in successful cases of treatment for cancers that are normally hard to treat.

Fine-Tuning Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy offers a non-toxic form of treatment, which doesn’t have the risk of side effects as chemotherapy and radiation do. Patients often turn to this type of treatment if they have not had success with conventional cancer treatments or they’re unable to tolerate the accompanying side effects.

Immunotherapy makes use of the immune system in order to find cancer cells and destroy them, rather than relying on chemicals or radiation. Researchers have been working on improvements in the way this type of treatment handles cancer, which has led to a higher number of successful treatments.

Good Candidates for Immunotherapy

Researchers have also been looking into who benefits from this type of treatment. Immunotherapy for cancer has been used successfully in cases that are considered hard to treat. However, certain types of immunotherapy treatments seem to be more effective for some patients but not others.

Researchers are conducting a number of studies to learn more about why certain individuals have greater benefit while undergoing specific immunotherapy treatment protocols. This research is expected to lead to improvements for those with cancers that are difficult to treat with traditional methods.

If you need more information on immunotherapy for cancer, please contact Issels® today. We offer personally tailored immunotherapy treatments for those with certain cancers.

Treatment Uses Patient’s Own Immune Cells to Fight Cancer

Treatment Uses Patient's Own Immune Cells to Fight Cancer
Treatment Uses Patient’s Own Immune Cells to Fight Cancer

Scientists are hopeful that a new gene therapy cancer treatment will lead to development of other drugs that utilize the power of a patient’s own immune system. In the meantime, policy makers face the challenges of safety, cost and access.

“Training” the Immune System to Fight Cancer

The therapy in question, called Kymriah, received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August 2017. Novartis developed Kymriah as a cancer treatment for children and young adults with a type of leukemia known as ALL.

Kymriah is a form of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell treatment. A patient’s T cells are genetically reengineered and infused back into the patient’s system to attack and kill cancer cells.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

During clinical trials conducted by Novartis, 63 patients received a one-time infusion of CAR T cells. After three months, 52 of the patients were in remission.

The downside is that 76 percent of the patients experienced a variety of side effects. In order to determine the overall risk vs. reward factor, the FDA has required Novartis to perform a post-marketing study of Kymriah’s safety and effectiveness.

An article published in the October issue of Health Affairs noted that high demand and high cost of CAR T cell therapies could lead to greater inequalities in health outcomes. The authors urged ethics and policy-making to catch up to the science of cancer treatment.

Issels®: A Pioneer in Cancer Immunotherapy

Issels® has long been ahead of the field in successful use of cancer treatment that aids the immune system in targeting tumor cells. Contact us for more information.

Some Cancers Cloak Themselves from the Immune System’s Discovery

Some Cancers Cloak Themselves from the Immune System's Discovery
Some Cancers Cloak Themselves from the Immune System’s Discovery

Immunotherapy cancer treatment is designed to aid the body’s immune system in recognizing and attacking tumor cells. Scientists are finally uncovering clues as to how cancer cells are able to evade detection by the body’s natural defenses.

How Cancer Blocks the Immune System

The first steps were taken in 2009 by a team headed up by Dr. Irving Weissman, director of Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. Their research discovered that some cancer cells are able to emit a “don’t eat me” signal.

High levels of CD47, a transmembrane protein, are found on the surface of more aggressive cancer cells. CD47 then binds with another protein called SIRPalpha on the surface of macrophages, a type of white blood cell, inhibiting their ability to attack cancer cells.

In 2017, Dr. Weissman’s team published the results of a recent study that identified another protein that interferes with macrophage activity. When MHC class 1 binds with a protein known as LILRB1, it’s resistant to an antibody that has been used successfully to counteract CD47 in tests on mice with cancer.

Applications for Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment

Cancer research is complicated by the fact that different types have different “fingerprints.” The studies conducted by Dr. Weissman’s team are helping scientists learn more about strategies to “outwit” cancer cells and their ability to avoid detection.

Issels®: Pioneering Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment

Our founder, Dr. Josef Issels, was ahead of his time in focusing on the immune system as the key to defeating advanced cancer. Contact us to learn more about how we are continuing his legacy of helping patients achieve long-term remission.

Molecularly Targeted Therapy Emerges As Another Possible Cancer Treatment

Molecularly Targeted Therapy Emerges As Another Possible Cancer Treatment
Molecularly Targeted Therapy Emerges As Another Possible Cancer Treatment

The problem with traditional cancer treatments is that they attack healthy cells along with diseased cells, which results in serious side effects such as fatigue and hair loss. Doctors are encouraged by the success of a new cancer treatment that zeroes in on the cancer cells.

The “Next Revolution in Cancer Therapy”

Molecularly targeted therapy is being hailed as the next big step in cancer treatment. These new drugs are designed at the molecular level to attack the diseased cells of a specific type of cancer. In addition, they can identify specific molecules that are part of specific cancers.

The drugs are created by a process that is the reverse of how most cancer drugs are developed. Scientists identify an abnormal molecule that’s unique to a particular type of cancer, then design a drug that shuts down its activity.

Gleevec: Paving the Way

Novartis Pharmaceuticals has developed Gleevec, also known as STI571, which is leading the way for molecularly targeted therapy. Gleevec is used for chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML, which is a rare form of the disease characterized by excessive production of white blood cells.

Researchers discovered that Gleevec is also effective against GIST, a rare gastrointestinal cancer. GIST features a unique enzyme related to the original target enzyme in CML.

State-of-the-Art Cancer Treatment at Issels®

Gene-targeted therapies, including Gleevec, Tamoxifen and Avastin, are a significant part of our personalized treatment programs. Issels® also uses non-toxic immunotherapy treatments that boost the immune system’s ability to target tumor cells.

Contact us today for more information about our decades of success in helping patients achieve long-term remission.

Tumor Suppressing Protein May Lead to New Pancreatic Cancer Treatments

Tumor Suppressing Protein May Lead to New Pancreatic Cancer Treatments
Tumor Suppressing Protein May Lead to New Pancreatic Cancer Treatments

While a protein known as p53 has long been recognized as a potent factor in suppressing tumors, the reasons have been unclear. Scientists are now discovering more about p53, including the existence of a “super” version, that may have valuable implications for cancer immunotherapy.

Finding the Right Balance

Balance is essential for realizing the maximum benefits of p53. Too little leaves the door open for tumor growth, but too much can cause developmental problems.

A research team at the Stanford University School of Medicine tested a variety of p53 mutations on mice that were susceptible to pancreatic cancer. The scientists were surprised to find that one version of the protein kept the mice tumor-free for longer periods of time.

A “Supercharged” Tumor Suppressor

According to Dr. Laura Attardi, senior author of the study, the mutated protein hit a “sweet spot” that allowed embryos to develop without any problems and gave adult mice greater resistance to tumors. The mutation appears to hyperactivate the p53 protein, causing it to affect a number of downstream targets.

With hundreds of genes impacted by p53 activity, Attardi’s team turned to the question of discovering which ones were involved in tumor development. They discovered the pathway of three proteins, led by p53, that created a chain reaction preventing development of tumor cells.

Issels®: Leading the Way in Cancer Immunotherapy

Our personalized immunotherapy programs include gene-targeted therapies that shut down specific molecules required for cancer growth. Treatments are integrated with other therapies that combine for the most effective ways of fighting tumor cells.

Contact us to learn more about our success in helping patients achieve long-term remission

Gut Bacteria Appears to Influence Whether or Not Cancer Tumors Will Shrink During Cancer Treatment

New Cancer Research Is Improving Treatment
New Cancer Research Is Improving Treatment

Bacteria is generally considered to be the cause of disease and infection, but many varieties have beneficial properties. Scientists are discovering that “good” bacteria living inside of us can have positive implications for cancer treatment.

How Can Bacteria Be “Good?”

The microbiome is a collection of microscopic organisms found inside our bodies, primarily in the gut. These organisms play a role in the digestive process and help to regulate the immune system.

Researchers in France and the United States conducted separate studies involving the microbiome of cancer patients. All participants were receiving immunotherapy treatment, which boosts the ability of the immune system to fight cancer cells.

The Relationship Between Gut Bacteria and Cancer Treatment

The team at the Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus in Paris studied 249 patients with lung or kidney cancer.

– Participants who had taken antibiotics, which disturb the microbiome, were more likely to experience tumor growth, even during treatment.

– A bacteria species known as A. muciniphila was found in two-thirds of patients who responded to immunotherapy, as opposed to only one-third of those who did not.

At the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, a team analyzed the microbiome of 112 patients with advanced melanoma.

– Patients who responded to cancer treatment were found to have a more rich and varied microbiome than those who didn’t.

– The composition of the microbiome also appeared to be significant, as higher levels of certain bacteria were associated with positive responses while others had negative impacts.

Innovative Cancer Treatment at Issels®

Our immunotherapy programs focus on cancer cells as well as the internal environment that supports them. Contact us for more information.