Despite the sometimes-dramatic success of new cancer immunotherapies like checkpoint inhibitor drugs and CAR T cells, thus far only a minority of patients have responded or gained long-lasting benefits. A major reason for the inconsistent results of immunotherapy is a phenomenon known as “T-cell exhaustion” — a weakening or loss of tumor-killing function by T … Continued
Tumors with high mutational burden have a large number of genetic mutations, or misspellings of the genetic code within their cells. Such cancers tend to acquire mutations as a result of exposure to harmful agents such as ultraviolet light or certain chemicals in tobacco. Malignancies that often have a high number of mutations include: Non-small … Continued
The go-to metaphor for cancer drugs known as immune checkpoint inhibitors is a brake-release lever — a means of setting loose an immune system attack on tumor cells. Helpful as it is, the analogy glosses over a highly complex mechanism involving multiple types of immune cells, cell receptors, signals, and responses — so intricate that … Continued
The intriguing case of a man with melanoma tumors that responded in different ways to the same checkpoint-blocking drug has yielded an important clue to the causes of resistance to immunotherapy treatments, according to Dana-Farber researchers. The findings could help guide the use of immunotherapy in individual patients. The 74-year-old patient, described in a report … Continued
As a designer of fantasy-style board games, Kate Beckett knows that timing and chance can play important roles in a player’s survival. Living with metastatic endometrial cancer, she has proof both can also be helpful in the real world. Beckett had already endured a hysterectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and a serious kidney infection during six years … Continued
Immunotherapy for cancer is a form of treatment that uses the body’s immune system to combat the disease. Today, immunotherapy is being applied to a wide range of cancers, often in combination with other agents, and clinical trials are exploring ways of improving and expanding its effectiveness. A particularly promising form of immunotherapy, known as … Continued
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
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. While the immune system can often handle … Continued
What are PD-1 and PD-L1? PD-L1 is a protein on the surface of some cancer cells that interacts with the PD-1 protein on T cells of the immune system to thwart an immune attack on the cancer. It’s one of the tools that cancer cells use to escape an attack by the immune system and … 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.