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Medicine Science

Mayo Clinic Reports Dramatic Outcomes In Prostate Cancer Treatment 122

Zorglub writes "Two prostate cancer patients who had been told their condition was inoperable are now cancer-free as the result of an experimental therapy, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester announced Friday. 'Cancer has a propensity for turning off T cells. Dr. Allison hypothesized that if you block the off-switch, T cells will stay turned on and create a prolonged immune response. Dr. Kwon, then at NIH, demonstrated that CTLA-4 blockage could be used to treat aggressive forms of prostate cancer in mice. There was one limitation to that concept — the worry that by simply leaving all the T cells on there may not be enough response aimed at the tumor. Dr. Kwon called Dr. Allison and designed the trial together. The idea: use androgen ablation or hormone therapy to ignite an immune approach — a pilot light — and then, after a short interval of hormone therapy, introduce an anti-CTLA-4 antibody that acts like gasoline to this pilot light and overwhelms the cancer cells.' After the treatment, the patients' tumors shrunk to such a degree that they could be successfully removed."
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Mayo Clinic Reports Dramatic Outcomes In Prostate Cancer Treatment

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  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:16PM (#28412231) Journal
    If the human immune system was really the weakest in the whole animal kingdom we wouldn't be living to 70+ years.

    Even if you take real good care of mice, they tend to fall apart by 3 years - cancer etc.

    Just see what happens to a patient with AIDS - all sorts of rare cancers appearing, dying from common cold etc.

    The trouble with some of these tweaks is you could end up with an autoimmune response. Sure you might be able to get the immune system to blow away the cancer. But it might start to attack the normal cells as well.

    When you get old, the "normal" cells after years of abuse and damage aren't quite as normal as they were when you were 20. It could be like pouring some new fangled super rust remover on an old car to find that most of the old car is made of rust... ;).

    That's why there's reproduction - it's a bit like a reset. Start over from scratch with a sperm and egg.

    With unicellular creatures like bacteria and protozoa it's not as vital for huge colonies of them to mutually cooperate - they can drift genetically on every generation as long as they can keep reproducing successfully. That's not true for complex multicellular organisms like humans. A bunch of cells striking out on their own = cancer.
  • Re:True, but (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ShawnX ( 260531 ) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @03:35PM (#28412861) Homepage Journal
    I know exactly what you went though, my dad had a very aggressive prostate cancer and seeing him slip away as he did was a horrible experience nobody should ever endure. I will always be forever haunted from those moments and to the last words he said to me during the day before he passed away that night. I am saddened if this treatment is found to be a breakthrough that it has come too late for us who have lost a loved one :`(
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @04:10PM (#28413127)

    I am saddened if this treatment is found to be a breakthrough that it has come too late for us who have lost a loved one

    Rejoice. For two reasons.

    1) Other people will be spared our experience.

    2) We're both genetically predisposed to prostate cancer, which means that this cure may help us someday. We might dodge the bullet. As a father myself I know I'd rather get cancer than my son. Easy decision. Maybe our Dads would feel the same way. "At least my son doesn't have to have this."

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982