Category Archives: Immunotherapy

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

Breast Cancer Patients Treated with Combination Drugs Suffer More Side Effects

New Research for Breast Cancer Studies Genes
New Research for Breast Cancer Studies Genes

One of the concerns with traditional cancer treatment is the range and severity of potential side effects that may occur. Based on the results of a recent study, patients with advanced breast cancer who are treated with a certain combination of drugs are at greater risk for serious side effects.

Fighting Cancer on Two Fronts

Some breast cancers are classified as “hormone receptor-positive.” Signals from hormones such as estrogen and progesterone reach receptors in the cancer cells, triggering further growth. Patients are commonly treated with a receptor blocker such as tamoxifen in conjunction with drugs that specifically target molecules involved in cancer cell development.

Previous research indicated that this combination therapy enabled patients to live longer without progression of the tumors. The missing piece of the puzzle was the extent to which treatment could cause side effects.

Evaluating Side Effects of Combination Therapies

A study conducted by an international research team found that patients with combination therapy were more susceptible to side effects such as fatigue, diarrhea and hyperglycemia. The degree of risk varied based on the particular drugs involved.

Scientists plan to use these results to design courses of treatment that are less likely to produce side effects. In the meantime, since these therapies do have benefits, doctors will have more information to use in prescribing and managing combination drug treatments.

Issels® Leads the Way with Non-Toxic Cancer Treatment

Personalized cancer treatment at Issels® uses a patient’s own immune cells, reducing the risk of of debilitating side effects. Contact us to learn more about our cancer vaccines and other innovative treatment programs.

Focusing on a Cancer’s Host Tissue May Bring a Prognosis into Better Focus

State of the Art Treatment with Cancer Immunotherapy
State of the Art Treatment with Cancer Immunotherapy

Thanks to innovations in testing methods and proactive awareness campaigns, doctors are able to diagnose cancer earlier then ever, increasing the chances of successful cancer immunotherapy. The second part of the equation, predicting the degree of malignancy, is a puzzle that remains to be solved.

When Is a Patient Truly Free of Cancer?

After treatment, a patient who shows no signs of cancer cells is classified as “no evidence of disease.” While the patient may display no visible tumors, doctors have no way of knowing if the cells have metastasized to other areas of the body where they may later resurface.

Chemotherapy and other treatments are often prescribed to decrease the chance of metastasis. Doctors tend to err on the side of caution, assuming that all patients are vulnerable, so many endure grueling rounds of treatment that end up being unnecessary.

“Focus on the Soil, Not the Seed”

For the most part, researchers have concentrated on unraveling the mysteries of cancer cells themselves to understand how they grow and spread. In keeping with that approach, scientists believed that metastasis was caused by cells spreading outward from their original location.

Based on that theory, all cancer patients would be expected to have metastasis. Many researchers are now shifting to a view that the spread of cancer cells is caused by a pathological relationship between the diseased cells and the host environment.

State-of-the-Art Cancer Immunotherapy from Issels®

Cancer immunotherapy at Issels® is directed at the cancer cells along with the underlying causes for the development of tumors. Contact us to learn more about how Issels® has helped patients achieve long-term remission.