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Medicine

Killing Cancer By Retraining the Patient's Immune System 175

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-get-'im-rock dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There's an interesting story on CNN about the University of Pennsylvania's human trial results on curing intractable cancer by retraining the patient's own immune system. Quoting: 'Nick Wilkins was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 4 years old, and when the cancer kept bouncing back, impervious to all the different treatments the doctors tried, his father sat him down for a talk. John Wilkins explained to Nick, who was by then 14, that doctors had tried chemotherapy, radiation, even a bone marrow transplant from his sister. ... A few months later, Nick traveled from his home in Virginia to Philadelphia to become a part of the experiment. This new therapy was decidedly different from the treatments he'd received before: Instead of attacking his cancer with poisons like chemotherapy and radiation, the Philadelphia doctors taught Nick's own immune cells to become more adept at killing the cancer. Two months later, he emerged cancer-free. It's been six months since Nick, now 15, received the personalized cell therapy, and doctors still can find no trace of leukemia in his system. ... Twenty-one other young people received the same treatment at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and 18 of them, like Nick, went into complete remission -- one of them has been disease-free for 20 months.'"
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Killing Cancer By Retraining the Patient's Immune System

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  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by ezdiy (2717051) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @09:34AM (#45632213)
    AIDS [xkcd.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by botnick (3457275)

      I knew this was familiar, here's a similar article in ny times from 2011. [nytimes.com] The therapy isn't quite risk free, in the linked article it says that a 39-old woman died when the retrained T-cells targeted a protein in her lungs; just 15 minutes after the injection and she developed breathing problems which I guess goes to show how potent destroyers T-cells can be.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        Wait a minute, so there are two outcomes:

        1. A reasonably quick death in few cases,
        2. A semi-permanent cure in most cases.

        If that's not a perfect cancer cure, I don't know what is. Either way you don't suffer much. That's like the win of all wins, given that many cancer patients typically go from Pre-Kindergarten all the way to a postdoc in suffering, last time I checked.

        • If that's not a perfect cancer cure, I don't know what is.

          Oh! I know a better one! A perfect cancer cure is:

          A truly permanent cure that works in all cases with no risk of death, other adverse side effects, or recurrence.

          And then there's something even better than a cure: a guaranteed prevention mechanism that is inherited, so you don't even have to do things to new humans.

          • by gigaherz (2653757)
            In a way, semi-permanent is better given capitalism: the chances of it being commercially manufactured are higher if people have to pay more than once. Heck it wouldn't surprise me if they weakened the treatment enough that the chances of it NOT being permanent are somewhat higher, while still keeping reasonably low death rates.
          • So... the only cure you'd accept is one that doesn't exist... for any disease.. at all ?

            Hell even the most natural and powerful disease treatment on earth - with 4.3 billion years of trail and error scientific development and basically the entirety of all human economic systems in history indirectly funding it's continued improvement: our natural (un-retrained) immune systems can't do what you demand - there are still occasional "side-effects" where those immune systems go haywire and we end up with auto-i

      • Of course, radiation and chemotherapy are virtually risk free and has no harmful or potentially fatal side effects.... oh wait.

        The simple truth is that gene therapy (including - but not limited to this version) is changing the face of cancer treatment. Cases that were a death sentence just 5 years ago suddenly have a chance at recovery - even full recovery. The war isn't over by a long shot - but we're winning a lot of significant battles lately.

  • Cancer cured! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by transporter_ii (986545) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @09:35AM (#45632219) Homepage

    Cancer gets cured about once a decade, sometimes by real doctors, sometimes by "quacks." I could show stats from real doctors with similar results to this one, which never saw the light of day once it was discovered (or rediscovered).

    People don't actually like creativity, even in medicine:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/12/creativity_is_rejected_teachers_and_bosses_don_t_value_out_of_the_box_thinking.html [slate.com]

    Staw says most people are risk-averse. He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.

    In medicine, innovative things happen all the time. When *you* go to the doctor, you get the same ol' thing that has been done since 1952.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Cancer gets cured about once a decade, sometimes by real doctors, sometimes by "quacks." I could show stats from real doctors with similar results to this one, which never saw the light of day once it was discovered (or rediscovered).

      People don't actually like creativity, even in medicine:

      http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/12/creativity_is_rejected_teachers_and_bosses_don_t_value_out_of_the_box_thinking.html [slate.com]

      Staw says most people are risk-averse. He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.

      In medicine, innovative things happen all the time. When *you* go to the doctor, you get the same ol' thing that has been done since 1952.

      Let's not dance around the real reason shit hasn't changed since 1952.

      Cures are not perpetually profitable. Only treatments are.

      Cures are never welcome in the industry, and if you run across one, I promise you that no insurance company will ever cover it, leaving most with the only option of death, since they don't have $500,000+ lying around.

      As far as how Obamacare will treat it, cures will be classified as first-degree felonies. You will abide by the party line and continue to obtain perpetual treat

      • Re:Cancer cured! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by camperdave (969942) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:21AM (#45632439) Journal
        Ridiculous. All one pharmaco has to do is say "We've got the cure!" and everyone will come to them, cash in hand. Perpetual treatments require two things that companies are not good at:
        - giving up short term gains for long term gains.
        - cooperating.
        • by segedunum (883035)
          You're confusing a cure with paying a company to keep you alive for the rest of your life.
        • companies are great at thinking long term. Look at gerrymandering in the United States. It took 20 years for the Republican party to completely take control of the State Legislatures and use that control to redraw the districts. Look at Hostess Bakery, that spent 10 years dismantling their Union.

          If anything, companies are great at screwing us in the long term. Now, doing _good_ in the long term. You're right, that just doesn't happen.
        • Neither of your examples apply:
          * Companies who already HAVE the long term gains constantly flowing in aren't going to give those up for a quick splurge of one-time cash. They aren't "giving up short term gains" - they are refusing to give up very LARGE long term gains that are ALREADY REALIZED.

          * That's just not true - companies love to cooperate, they would always much rather cooperate than to ever compete. Collusion and cartel formation is a continuos plague of capitalist economic systems which, despite th

      • Re:Cancer cured! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:32AM (#45632485)

        Hate to break it up to you, but not all countries use a for-profit system for health coverage.

        In many countries, like mine for example, health-care costs come out of the pockets of governments.

        In other words, if those cures work, it might not be in the interests of the american, for-profit system to use them, but it would be in the interests of the countries where health-care is run in a sensible manne to use them.

        Which is the best illustration of why health insurance should never be run for profit, and should be run as a public service the same way fire department and the police are.

        If your comment about Obamacare is any indicator of your political affiliation and opinion on private health insurance, your comment shoots your opinion in the foot.

      • Re:Cancer cured! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DrXym (126579) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:40AM (#45632533)

        Cures are not perpetually profitable. Only treatments are.

        Well that's a particularly cretinous argument. Purely from a profit perspective which is better for doctors, hospitals, "big pharma" and insurers - a dead kid or someone who is cured and goes on to live another 70 years, requiring all kinds of medical interventions during that time not just for himself but for any children he may have?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Cures are not perpetually profitable. Only treatments are.

          Well that's a particularly cretinous argument. Purely from a profit perspective which is better for doctors, hospitals, "big pharma" and insurers - a dead kid or someone who is cured and goes on to live another 70 years, requiring all kinds of medical interventions during that time not just for himself but for any children he may have?

          You seem to be overlooking the dark hole that no one wants to acknowledge when it comes to keeping humans alive for a very long time.

          Resource management is a job of every government, including yours. We only have a finite amount of resources on this earth, and a happily cured, ever-growing population of 10 billion+ in another decade will not help that in any way.

          I'm certain that with the advances in sheer human ingenuity, we'll be able to figure out a way to live 150 years or more. It's a shame that the

          • Or. The herd will eventually cull itself to sustainable levels. Humankind has a ready arsenal of population control methods at its disposal, not the least of which are famine and a tenacious appetite for war.
          • Dude, that's already happened. Look at life expectancy increases in the West over the past 100 years. In the UK NHS, it's referred to as the 'population time bomb' as people think that we'll be unable to afford universal healthcare in 20 years' time. It hasn't stopped all of these life-prolonging treatments to become mainstream, and the UK government still spends millions every year educating people in health improvement that actually extends life and ultimately costs more (stop smoking, reduce saturated
            • by DrXym (126579)
              People who live longer and more productive lives pay more taxes and help the economy. It's in a government's interest to keep people healthy and reproducing. I suppose that once people retire that the incentive declines, but then again governments can simply the raise the age of retirement (as the UK has done). At some point the figures have to balance out.
          • by DrXym (126579)
            I'm not "overlooking" anything. Assuming you are the original AC, you just ignored my obvious rebuttal of your BS and went off on a tangent. And what a tangent! You pull some hypothetical figure of life expectancy from your ass, proclaim it to be fact, extrapolate it into a "soylent green" type scenario and think it somehow validates the your original nonsense. It doesn't.
      • Re:Cancer cured! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mark-t (151149) <markt@nOSPam.lynx.bc.ca> on Sunday December 08, 2013 @11:18AM (#45632703) Journal

        Cures are never welcome in the industry

        That would be false.

        First of all, the industry has cured many diseases. It just happens to be the case that no significant additions have been made to the list of fully curable diseases for several decades.

        At most, this might suggest to the layman that current trends seem to indicate that the current health industry may no longer be interested in curing diseases, but in practice, to actually adopt the premise as genuinely true requires conspiracy theories which are not logically sustainable in a rational debate, and most notably fails to consider the possibility that actually curing diseases could be a really hard thing to do and may not be something that can be reasonably expected to happen regularly in the absence of any breakthroughs happening, which are not something that can generally be anticipated beforehand anyways.

        • by mdielmann (514750)

          While what you say is generally true, over the last several decades the consumer goods industry has gone from quality, durable products to being almost completely filled with products that suffer from planned obsolescence. This guarantees recurring revenue for the consumer goods industry. Why would the pharmaceutical industry not have the same preference? Altruism? Their annual incomes suggest they aren't non-profits.

      • by hackus (159037)

        Not only are cures not profitable, they disrupt billions in cash flows for different treatment options for cancer.

        Any sort of cure in the field would probably put a bullseye on your forehead.

        Eventually we will have a cure for cancer and it will be HIGHLY regulated or sold to the highest bidder only like all valuable and rare commodities.

        -Hack

      • Re:Cancer cured! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Courageous (228506) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @02:33PM (#45633697)

        You're letting your imagination get away from you. If you are an insurance company, and a patient presents to you with a potential in $500K+ in medical expenses, you'd want to unbook that risk as quickly and as affordably as possible.

      • by fractoid (1076465)
        Wow. Because medicine hasn't changed in 62 years and there's nothing now that can be routinely cured that used to be incurable and/or require ongoing treatment.
      • by Ihlosi (895663)
        Cures are not perpetually profitable.

        Yes they are. If a patient is cured of easily curable disease W, he has a chance of catching the more expensively cured diseases X, Y or Z later.

        Which is why we have vaccinations. People that don't die from tetanus, polio and what not have a chance to live to a ripe old age and catch cancer, heart disease and various neurodegenerative disorders.

        Even for the most evil, greedy industry, the time to start selling a cure is when the patents on your treatment run out - y

      • by Agent0013 (828350)
        I've heard this argument before. Then just last week I learned of a new cure for hepatitis C that seems to be pretty reliable. I would say that blows your theory out of the water!
    • Re:Cancer cured! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Stickerboy (61554) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:17AM (#45632419) Homepage

      Why do I even bother responding to this nonsense.

      Cancer gets cured about once a decade, sometimes by real doctors, sometimes by "quacks." I could show stats from real doctors with similar results to this one, which never saw the light of day once it was discovered (or rediscovered).

      Please, do show us the stats. I get tired of the false meme that "oh, we would have cured disease X already if the results weren't being suppressed in a big conspiracy"! Medical research is hard work, and frustrating. Not only do you have to cure the disease in the test tube, but then you have to cure the disease in a living patient, and make sure it doesn't do something equally or more horrible to the patient in the process.

      On top of that, the public has been oblivious to the fact that real progress in cancer treatment, and yes, even cures, are being made. Many leukemias and lymphomas are now curable through chemotherapy and radiation. This boy in the article is in the small minority that standard treatment did not work. Solid tumor cancers are getting better early detection and treatment. Mortality from many cancers has been dropping over the last 2 decades. [itv.com] What was once usually a consistent death sentence doesn't have to be.

      People don't actually like creativity, even in medicine:

      http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/12/creativity_is_rejected_teachers_and_bosses_don_t_value_out_of_the_box_thinking.html [slate.com]

      Staw says most people are risk-averse. He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.

      In medicine, innovative things happen all the time. When *you* go to the doctor, you get the same ol' thing that has been done since 1952.

      Most of us physicians try to live up to our creed: "First, do no harm." This includes not jumping to try every crazy-ass, untested treatment that some would-be genius cooked up and put in a syringe on the patients under our charge, if there are other treatment options that are still available. And here's a crazy thought: some diseases are better off untreated. I have an 85 year-old with dementia that was recently diagnosed with a lung tumor, likely malignant cancer but slow growing. Am I going to recommend putting her under general anesthesia, the knife, follow-up chemotherapy and possible radiation? Hell no.

      If you truly think the standard of care in medicine is the same as 1952, I invite you, when you get sick, to turn down any or all recommendations for an MRI or a CAT scan. No heart catheterizations. No minimally invasive or laparoscopic surgery. No joint replacements. Very few blood pressure, cardiac, or autoimmune treatments. None of the advances for asthma and other lung diseases. If you're infected and allergic to penicillins and sulfa medications, good luck! I certainly wouldn't want the alternatives: veritable bleach in the veins or antibiotics toxic to the kidneys and ears.

      tl,dr: You're full of it.

      • Re:Cancer cured! (Score:5, Informative)

        by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Sunday December 08, 2013 @11:56AM (#45632967)

        I'm reminded that when President Truman had his heart attack in 1956, the official prescription from his physician was bed rest accompanied by Mrs. Truman to keep him warm.

        That was the whole, complete prescription.

        Anyone who says medicine hasn't improved since 1952 simply isn't paying attention.

        • by hackus (159037)

          I am talking about cancer not about heart attacks, just to clarify.

          By the way, you are correct, heart disease as a issue in humans is a bio-mechanical problem so it is much simpler to solve.
          (Essentially straight forward, since wee can design machines as well to replace the heart, or simply just cut stuff out that doesn't work.)

          So we can mitigate that much better than cancer (which is uncontrolled cell growth.)

          Still I can cite many cases where the medical, primarily Universities and Pharma companies have don

          • Still I can cite many cases where the medical, primarily Universities and Pharma companies have done some seriously dark deals in the back board rooms just to set back any advances using patents to protect cash flow.

            The cite them; do you understand that there is a difference between actually citing something, and saying you can cite something?

            Because I have convincing proof here that I've been to the moon and back. In fact, I posting this right now from the moon

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Thank you for that. Some people definitely need to get their heads out of...um, the nineteenth century.

        I'm currently in chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and the treatments have significantly improved just in the past few years. I'm getting a chemo regimen that was just described in an April 2013 paper as superior in all ways to the previous favorite - better results, fewer side effects. Things are definitely getting better, and the techniques being used are truly amazing. My chemo has gone pretty

      • Re:Cancer cured! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Sunday December 08, 2013 @12:04PM (#45633023)

        Thank you for being a physician. Seriously. It's appreciated.

        (-- would've been dead in the '90s except for someone like you)

      • Re:Cancer cured! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by transporter_ii (986545) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @01:51PM (#45633509) Homepage

        I get tired of the false meme that "oh, we would have cured disease X already if the results weren't being suppressed in a big conspiracy"

        This guy was on to something good. When he was farting around in the lab, he got funding. When he started to get results, the funding vanished. I love his statement in bold below:

        http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/science_news/4273366.html [popularmechanics.com]

        So how did you get it funded up to this point?

        There is some private funding and the university put some funding into it. And also, at early stages when we studied the mechanisms of these mice, we had one Mitchell Cancer Institute grant, several small grants from Cancer Research Institute. But they all stopped funding me. It was kind of a strange situation. I thought it was our common goal to come up with a new weapon to fight cancer, but the moment I announced I had a new weapon to test in real human cancer situations, everybody shied away.

      • by hackus (159037)

        No YOU are full of it.

        MRI's or CAT scans aid in diagnosing a problem.

        If you had cancer in 1952, the only change in outcome compared to today is a a pretty picture too look at in your doctors office that cost GIANT WADS of F'ing cash.

        "Awe, you have cancer look at the pretty picture." You have 3 months, oh and if you want 6 months, we will need you to go into bankrupcy.

        vs in 1952

        You have cancer, your going to die.
        (No bankrupcy, no giant wads of cash for pretty pictures.)

        You sir are a MORON.

        -Hack

    • Re:Cancer cured! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jiriki (119865) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:23AM (#45632455) Homepage

      In medicine, innovative things happen all the time. When *you* go to the doctor, you get the same ol' thing that has been done since 1952.

      That is just wrong. If you look at breast cancer 10-year survival rates (Figure 3.4): http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/types/breast/survival/ [cancerresearchuk.org]

      They have come up from 41% in 1970 to 77% in 2007. While cancer is not cured, survival rates are a lot better.

      When talking to the doctor three years ago, when my girlfriend had a breast-cancer operation, they had the latest studies and decided for a treatment based on them. The doctor only worked 4 days a week and took 1 day "off" to keep up with current research.

      The chemicals used for chemo-therapie are updated all the time and also genetical fingerprinting of the tumor cells is used to decide which treatment makes sense. So there are lots of differences even compared to the treatment 10 years ago.

      • It could just be that on average cancer is detected earlier now than in 1970. So everyone still lives the same amount of time, but the arbitrary 5-year clock starts ticking earlier.

        • by geekmux (1040042)

          It could just be that on average cancer is detected earlier now than in 1970. So everyone still lives the same amount of time, but the arbitrary 5-year clock starts ticking earlier.

          Exactly right.

          If anything has really shown actual improvement, it's cancer detection.

          We can't even speak about cancer prevention, for there are likely more things that can cause cancer in the human body today than ever before.

          And you speak volumes referencing the 5-year clock, which that metric hasn't changed in decades.

          Statistics can be a blessing and a curse.

    • where they still fund some basic research. Here in America, where we're all taxed to the max and the "Job Creators" are just too underpaid to make more jobs ($4400/hr? How could anyone live off that?) we've pretty much stopped funding basic research. I know several doctors that moved to Europe not to escape over regulation (ha!) but because nobody here would pay for their research. With the Universities becoming a paid racket ($40,000 for in state tuition? not enough, it goes up ever year) we're not even ge
    • Re:Cancer cured! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Idarubicin (579475) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (teiuqslla)> on Sunday December 08, 2013 @01:19PM (#45633375) Journal

      In medicine, innovative things happen all the time. When *you* go to the doctor, you get the same ol' thing that has been done since 1952.

      I don't know why I'm even bothering to respond to someone who writes down such utter bollocks, but I'll bite.

      The very first cancer patient was treated with cobalt-60 irradiation in late 1951, in London, Ontario--so I suppose that slips into your 1952 window (though the instruments used in those preliminary 1951 tests bear very little resemblance to those used today). The first use of a clinical linear accelerator for high-energy radiotherapy wasn't until 1956, at Stanford.

      The first clinical x-ray CT scanner was used in 1971; it took five minutes to collect a slice of data, and more than two hours to process that data into a rather low-resolution image. PET scanning using FDG started around 1976. The first commercial MR imagers appeared around 1980, after a decade or so of futzing about with technical challenges.

      The drug cisplatin wasn't approved by the FDA until 1978; it was the first discovered of a line of platinum-containing antineoplastic drugs. The drug taxol received FDA approval in late 1992. It was the first clinically-used taxane, a family of compounds which inhibit microtubule formation and thereby disrupt cell division. Rituximab was approved in 1997. It was the first anti-cancer monoclonal antibody therapy; there are now more than a dozen. Imatinib was the first small-molecule kinase inhibitor for cancer therapy, approved in 2001.

      All of the above techniques and therapies are available to *you* and in routine use today - when they haven't been superseded by even newer developments. I hate to break it to you, but this ain't your grandma's oncology.

    • by tibit (1762298)

      Cancer gets cured about once a decade, sometimes by real doctors, sometimes by "quacks." I could show stats from real doctors with similar results to this one, which never saw the light of day once it was discovered (or rediscovered).

      So, um, what's stopping you? Sharing a Nobel prize in medicine is not enough of an enticement? Huh?

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @09:54AM (#45632283)

    California Stem Cell, Inc. has been doing a similar project since about 2005 in training white blood cells of a patient to recognize malignant melanoma cells out side the body, growing large numbers of those white blood cells and then reinjecting them back into the patient. To date they have achieved some very high remission/cure rates. They have FDA clearance pending but not yet issued. The process was originally developed by doctors at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, CA as I recall from a speach.

    www.californiastemcell.com

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @12:25PM (#45633161)
      I had a similar treatment (tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) w/o genetic engineering) for my stage 4 malignant melanoma 16 months ago at NIH. My tumors are almost gone: one left, barely large enough to be visible in the resolution of the CT scanner. The fifteen years of statistics at NIH of this trial show five-year survival rates of 20% to 40% (depending on whether or not total body radiation was included), which is incredible for melanoma. Some patients are getting genetic engineering on their WBC to see whether or not that improves the procedure. Modern medicine is incredible. Personalized therapy for cancers via immunology is a very promising direction.
      • I listened to the VP of marketing from Calif. Stem Cell recount that their limited trial of stage 4 melanoma patients had something like a 90% survival rate, which is astounding.

        I know they are now getting ready to do a final 3rd clinical trial which is needed before final FDA clearance.

    • by alexo (9335)

      Immunovative [immunovative.co.il] as well.

  • by John_Yossarian (1160273) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:21AM (#45632433)

    My wife was part of a stage 3 melanoma study for the drug Ipilimumab (brand name Yervoy), an immunotherapy drug that inhibits the signal mechanism used by the immune system to turn off an attack. So any metastatic cells floating around her body would not be able to masquerade as normal cells by flying the right protein flag. Unfortunately, halfway through the trial she had a major reaction that caused brain swelling, requiring her to be hospitalized twice. Fortunately, she survived the side effects and the oncologist believes she had enough of the juice to get most of the benefit. Without the drug, we were looking at 50% survival rate for 5 years. The study is still in progress, so no idea how Ipilimumab will improve the odds.

    There is research out there claiming green tea, spices like tumeric, and just eating better can have dramatic results. I would like to see some serious research by respected oncologists into the efficacy of simple life changes like that, instead of study after study pushing big pharma's insanely expensive drugs (thankfully covered by the trial in our case) that cause side effects potentially more dangerous than the disease they are intended to treat.

    I don't know if reprogramming T-Cells like in TFA is more or less dangerous than conventional immunotherapy. Cancer makes people desperate enough to take some pretty big treatment risks. I certainly appreciate the fact that oncologists are aggressive in their mission to save lives, but I wish we had more non-fringe research into potentially good treatments that were also cheap and safe.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      There is a line about diet that says something about how the PH of your body can affect cancer cell growth or something like that. I guess the more acidic it is, the easier it is for the cancer to grow and spread. No one says it will cure cancer, but they seem to claim it will slow it's progress and prevent it in most cases.

      However, I heard it from some radio doctor who pushes alternative treatments so I don't know how much value I would place in it. Seems to me if this was true more then a couple anecdotal

      • There's a good chance that the hash just made her feel a lot better, both with the nausea and liveliness, and it didn't do anything at all to help the cancer. The first two effects are pretty well proven.
    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      You don't need to wait for research on the benefits of eating well. Eating well is never a bad thing!

      If you want results now, then you should try looking into cultural food systems that have evolved over thousands of years such as ayurveda. When what few studies have been done by western medicine confirms things that food philosophies have been saying for millenia, it's sometimes better to take a more serious look at them.

      • You mean this system, the one ayurvedic proponents espouse, which categorize fish, onions, garlic, scallions, leeks, chives, and mushrooms as harmful foods?

        Sattvic Diet [wikipedia.org]

        I'm shocked reputable scientists haven't studied it more. /sarcasm

    • by segedunum (883035)

      There is research out there claiming green tea, spices like tumeric, and just eating better can have dramatic results. I would like to see some serious research by respected oncologists into the efficacy of simple life changes like that, instead of study after study pushing big pharma's insanely expensive drugs (thankfully covered by the trial in our case) that cause side effects potentially more dangerous than the disease they are intended to treat.

      Sadly, after seeing the countless billions thrown at cancer research over the years I can't be anything but extremely sceptical and downhearted on that one. A simple, cheap remedy or even something that would help in a small way is just not on the cards. So much money has been chucked at cancer that if those things haven't been properly researched by now they never will be. Cancer research is a sinkhole for lots and lots of money and that will never change as things stand.

      • Countless studies have been done on both green tea and turmeric. The Life Extension Foundation (lef.org) cites many occasionally. Both substances reduce the chance of getting cancer but don't cure it.

        Look, it's well established that some things, like smoking, encourage cancer. Some things ameliorate the effects of smoking (like vitamin C), and those same things also help against environmental factors that promote cancer. There are many available food supplements that (statistically) provide partial protecti

  • by tomhath (637240)
    ...because they're turning those children into Genetically Modified Organisms. And we've all read many times here on /. that all GMOs are bad.

    But I hope this therapy works out. Progress against cancer is made one step at a time.

    • ...because they're turning those children into Genetically Modified Organisms. And we've all read many times here on /. that all GMOs are bad.

      But I hope this therapy works out. Progress against cancer is made one step at a time.

      Which brings up an interesting point... If a company changes your genetic code as part of a cure they have patented, do they then own your cells which are now GMOs (more or less)? Will you get sued if you try to propagate the patented material via procreation?

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        Yes. And if you're a woman, Monsanto will sue you for simply having unprotected sex with a GMO man.

  • If you can genetically engineer cancer-killing T-cells, couldn't you just inject those into healthy patients (i.e. all the rest of us) as well, as a sort of immunization, just like you can get vaccination against influenza or tetanus?
    • by stoploss (2842505)

      If you can genetically engineer cancer-killing T-cells, couldn't you just inject those into healthy patients (i.e. all the rest of us) as well, as a sort of immunization, just like you can get vaccination against influenza or tetanus?

      Simply put, those T-cells wouldn't have the proper MHC. The body would recognize them as foreign, and the immune system would kill the injected T-cells.

      That's one reason this works, but is so hard: they have to "load the weapon" by modifying a T-cell from the patient's own body. MHC is the same reason you can't just get an organ transplant from any random person... if it's not a match, the immune system will kill it.

      People getting regular organ transplants take immunosuppressants, because even then the matc

    • by Guppy (12314)

      If you can genetically engineer cancer-killing T-cells, couldn't you just inject those into healthy patients (i.e. all the rest of us) as well, as a sort of immunization, just like you can get vaccination against influenza or tetanus?

      The Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell (CAR-T) technique actually requires a new lineage of modified cells to be created for each individual patient, engineered from each person's own immune cells. Unfortunately, this is an expensive and time-consuming task, and scaling to mass-production will be very difficult.

      A second problem is that cancers may have differences from normal cells, but the differences are subtle compared to a microbe or virus -- precisely because they are not foreign, they are "us" in a sen

  • But this is good news. We can in fact teach the human immune cells to recognize the threats. In fact it already does, it's why a lot of cancers pop up later in life. But if we bolster the immune system we could see cancer eradicated.
  • by rnturn (11092) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @01:33PM (#45633431)

    A very close friend was supposed to go through this treatment almost two years ago. Unfortunately for him, you need to be is pretty good shape before this is begun and his cancer was spreading to various places in his body and he was never quite to the point where the doctors felt he could tolerate a new form of treatment. All I could think of was that the oncologists were stuck in a deadly game of whackamole; hit that place where the cancer was discovered and it popped up somewhere else. When the cancer spread to his brain, it was all over. By then his estimated of survival was, maybe, six weeks and he lasted less than a week after the discovery of it having gotten into the brain. Maybe if the original "We got it in time, there's nothing in the lymph nodes"[*] had been followed up with this treatment he'd still be around. When it was discovered to have returned it was probably already too late.

    [*] -- The cancer that was discovered a couple of years ago was found to be the same one that he'd had surgery/chemo for years earlier. My feeling is that `clean' lymph nodes are probably a false hope. What evidence is there that cancer always leaves a trace in the lymph nodes anyway?

  • I previously understood that personalized therapy could not get approved by FDA because it was impossible to perform studies on a large number of people (since the treatment is for one). I am glad it is nonetheless used, but what changed?
  • I have a friend whose son, Sam, is dying of leukemia. He's gone into remission and then relapsed multiple times. This time they tried various treatments, but nothing worked. The doctors finally said there's nothing they can do. He's going to die. Sam is only 7 years old. Can you imagine having to tell your seven year old that they are going to die soon? As a parent, that's something I hope to NEVER have to do and something that I hope no parent ever has to tell their child again.

    Here's my friend's blo

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