Cancer immunotherapy is becoming one of the most promising cancer treatments in the past 60 years. The directing of a patients internal immune system to fight-off a full range of cancer types is one of the most promising new approaches to treatment. The treatments have the potential to achieve complete, long-lasting remissions and cancer cures, with few or no side effects, and for any cancer patient, regardless of their cancer type”. For the more than 14.1 million people who are diagnosed with cancer each year, immunotherapy treatments may provide greater potential for results then current forms of treatment.
Because every cancer type is unique, treatments vary dramatically for each type, and each type of cancer is impacted uniquely by immunology and immunotherapy. Currently, there are only six active immunotherapies approved by the FDA for cancer, leaving clinical trials as the only avenue for hundreds of other new and promising cancer immunotherapy treatments. Often patients are not aware of available clinical trials and how participating in them can offer promising results in their cancer experience. Surveys reveal that only 3 to 6 percent of eligible patients avail themselves of clinical trials. Cancer patients should initiate a conversation with their doctor about the benefits and availability of Cancer Immunotherapy Clinical Trials (CICT’s). “CICT’s are critical to bringing new and potentially lifesaving treatments to more patients with more types of cancer, and may represent the greatest hope for patients currently facing the disease”, says the Cancer Research Institute.
Cancer immunotherapy uses components of a patient’s immune system to promote antibodies to bind and inhibit the function of proteins in cancer cells. Other cancer immunotherapies involve the introduction of vaccines and T cell infusions. As researchers learn more about the differences between cancer cells and normal cells, new Monoclonal antibodies have been developed to enhance these differences and improve the effects and safety of cancer drugs.
“From 40 years and more of science, we know the general nature of the conversation between the tumor cells and the immune system,” says Philip Sharp, a biologist at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and a recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize in medicine. “That’s the conversation we’re trying to join in order to have a therapeutic effect. We are still at the level of a five-year-old kid. We know there are nouns, and that there are verbs. But the diversity of the vocabulary is still being mapped out.”