Medically reviewed by Natalie Collins, MD, PhD New treatments that spur the immune system against cancer have entered the clinic to combat some forms of pediatric blood cancers, such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). One form of immunotherapy, CAR T cells, has been approved for children and young adults with ALL. In treating solid tumors … Continued
Medically reviewed by F. Stephen Hodi, MD Immunotherapy refers to treatments that use the body’s immune system to combat diseases. Immuno-oncology focuses on efforts to use the immune system as a weapon against cancer. The immune system is a collection of organs, tissues, specialized cells, and substances that protect the body against infection and disease. … Continued
More than a century after scientists recognized the immune system’s potential as a cancer warrior, immunotherapy is rapidly becoming a mainstay of the anti-cancer arsenal. The groundwork was laid in the 1990s, when scientists learned that immune cells carry certain proteins on their surface that enable them to turn off the body’s immune system. That … Continued
Every cancer patient is different, and there are many different types of cancer treatment that a patient may receive—all of which is dependent on their unique circumstances. A patient may only receive one type of treatment or a combination of multiple different treatments. Treatment can also have different goals. In some cases, treatment is used … Continued
Immunotherapy drugs can be more effective against cancer when combined with other therapies, such as radiation therapy, targeted drugs, or other immunotherapy agents. Clinical trials that are currently underway are testing such combinations in a variety of cancers. It might seem that immunotherapy and chemotherapy make an unpromising pair. Chemotherapy, after all, is known to … Continued
Marking the first time an immunotherapy agent has been approved for the treatment of a form of breast cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the use of the drug atezolizumab in combination with the chemotherapy drug nab-paclitaxel for patients with advanced triple-negative breast cancer. The approval was granted on an accelerated basis … Continued
Six years’ worth of repeated surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy with three different agents failed to halt the growth of Frances Zichichi’s brain tumor. As it kept recurring and more surgeries were required, Zichichi lost the use of her left side. Eventually the cancer formed masses under her scalp, causing pain, which was dulled only with … Continued
In early 2018, Sandra Linberg received an infusion of CAR T cells only a few months after the therapy was approved for treating her type of cancer. After only a month, her lymphoma had completely disappeared – she was in a complete remission. “Those little warrior cells took care of it,” declared Linberg, who has continued … Continued
A biomarker—short for “biological marker”—is something that can be objectively measured and is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or a condition or disease. A biomarker can be a molecule found in the blood or other body fluids or tissues. Another type of biomarker is a genetic signature or “fingerprint”—a pattern of activity … Continued
Tests on living “organoids” created from patients’ ovarian cancer cells proved more accurate than DNA sequencing in predicting tumors’ sensitivity or resistance to chemotherapy drugs – and combining the two methods worked even better, say scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The investigators report in Cancer Discovery that ovarian cancer organoids – tiny, three-dimensional spheres of cells … Continued
The past two years have seen striking changes in how advanced bladder cancer is treated.
A growing number of researchers are testing the potential role of natural killer cells—”NK cells”—in cancer immunotherapy.
Scientists at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) have identified biomarkers in melanoma that could help tailor immunotherapy treatments to maximize the benefits for patients while reducing the likelihood of severe side effects.
As scientists have learned more about the intricate workings of the immune system, they’ve developed new forms of immunotherapy that have been approved for the treatment of leukemia or are being clinically tested in patients.
Nancy Hale was given a 30 percent chance of surviving three years when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. But today, six years after her initial diagnosis and because of an immunotherapy clinical trial, Hale is in remission—and “blazing the trail” for other patients.
“It has been the holy grail of oncology to develop potentially curative treatments for advanced common solid tumors, and it may now be on our doorstep for at least some patients,” says Bruce Johnson, MD, a thoracic oncologist and chief clinical research officer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Robert Johnson remains in remission more than three years after participating in a pioneering immunotherapy clinical trial for his stage IV adenocarcinoma non-small cell lung cancer.
A growing arsenal of new drugs that unleash the body’s immune system against tumors has captured the cancer treatment spotlight.
Radioimmunotherapy is a combination of radiation therapy and immunotherapy.
Two years after being given six months to live, Mullan’s cancer is still at bay because of immunotherapy and targeted chemotherapy – and through it all, he achieved one of his dreams: graduating from Harvard Law School.