Destroying Cancer, One New Immunotherapy Treatment At A Time
Halfway through medical school and only 24 years old, Matt – a nonsmoker – was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. With his future suddenly uncertain, he was determined to fight the cancer with everything he had. During his treatment, Matt discovered he had a specific gene mutation which made him eligible to access a two-week-old medicine released in a phase I clinical trial. Through a progressive cancer treatment (with virtually no side effects), Matt has successfully put his cancer into remission. “I beat the odds,” said Matt, a feat only one-percent of stage IV cancer survivors accomplish. Now age 29 and 100-percent disease-free, Matt has created a new life for himself; one that has him working as a full-time researcher.
Researchers Making An Impact
Ted is one of the hundreds of scientists who’s devoted his life to fighting cancer. His dedication stems from losing his 62-year-old mother to the disease. “At the time [my mother] had cancer, treatments just weren’t effective.” So, Ted set out to develop ones that were. Ultimately, Ted’s work led him to developing a life-saving treatment for a specific genetic mutation of lung cancer. It’s the very same targeted-therapy that saved Matt’s life. It’s just another testament to the army of researchers like Ted, who every day, stare down the odds to uncover the breakthrough treatments that ultimately save millions of lives like Matt’s.
Hear more about Ted's lung cancer research in our new podcast.
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The Latest Innovations
Completely eradicating cancer has never looked more promising. For starters, researchers now have a clearer understanding of the role of genetic mutations in cancer. It’s opened the door to a personalized medicine approach in which therapy selection is specifically designed for each individual patient. At the forefront of this groundbreaking advancement is immunotherapy— an exciting new type of treatment that harnesses the body's own immune system to take on disease-causing viruses and bacteria.
Considered the Holy Grail of cancer treatments, immunotherapy has yielded some of the most exciting new treatments with the promise of lasting results. For example, some immunotherapy treatments facilitate a stronger immune response to cancer, while others show the immune system what cancer looks like so it can better identify, target and kill the diseased cells.
Today, there are some 248 immuno-oncology therapeutics in development. Racing to the front of the pack is a type of immunotherapy called chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR-T). It works by transforming a patient’s white blood cells into an army to fight and destroy cancer cells. To receive the treatment, a patient’s T-cells are removed and armed with a new gene that allows it to recognize cancer. Then, the new T-cells are given back to the patient intravenously, where they can then identify and target cancer cells. Currently, there are 21 CAR-T cell therapies in development.
Also on the horizon are checkpoint inhibitors, which work by boosting the immune response to cancer cells. By using different mechanisms to trigger an enhanced reaction, these medicines have the potential to enable a patient’s immune system to fight the cancer. By bringing more of these treatments to life, researchers are inching closer to destroying cancer entirely. For everyone.
Together, We’re Stronger
In just the last decade alone, we’ve made tremendous strides in taking down some of the most aggressive cancers to date. Cancer might be a clever disease, but our researchers are smarter. With the right combination of science, research and breakthrough treatments, scientists like Ted prove every day, it’s just a matter of time until we outwit cancer completely.
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