Immunotherapy is a kind of treatment that has had stunning results in some patients with cancers like melanoma, lymphoma, and kidney cancer. Immunotherapy drugs empower the body’s immune system by enabling the body to fight cancer — an approach that can slow or halt cancer in certain patients.
In our latest podcast series, The Science Behind Cancer, we dive into the basics of immunotherapy with the help of Osama Rahma, MD, a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber’s Center for Immuno-Oncology. With Rahma’s help, we explore the different types of immunotherapy, who should be treated with it, how researchers are looking to further develop this treatment, and more.
While some patients with certain cancers have responded well to immunotherapy, Rahma emphasizes that it doesn’t work for everyone. Researchers at Dana-Farber and others around the world are looking at why this is the case — and are also exploring why some cancers eventually become resistant to immunotherapy. Rahma also explains why combination therapy, or the use of more than one type of therapy in treating a patient, is the future of immunotherapy development.
Ultimately, Rahma has a goal: “We are looking to turn cancer into a chronic disease, [in which] immunotherapy can just contain cancer,” he says.
In this episode, we also discuss CAR T-cell therapy, a groundbreaking kind of cellular therapy that uses a patient’s own immune system cells to rally an attack on cancer. CAR T-cell therapy was approved by the FDA for the treatment of adult lymphoma and pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in 2017. Approvals for additional usages are expected in 2018.