Immunotherapy: A “Fundamental Change” in Cancer Treatment

Medical Research Has Validated that Immunotherapy Works to Fight Cancer
Medical Research Has Validated that Immunotherapy Works to Fight Cancer

As medical researchers have waged a decades-long battle to find a cure for cancer, the possibility of using a patient’s own immune system to fight tumors has been an exciting but unattainable dream. Today that dream is becoming reality with immunotherapy for cancer treatment.

“The Medical Equivalent of Splitting the Atom”

Traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation are designed to attack tumors directly. In contrast, immunotherapy aims to boost the power of a patient’s own immune system to battle cancer.

Dr. Jedd Wolchok, chief of melanoma and immunotherapeutics services at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City, refers to immunotherapy as a “fundamental change” in the approach to cancer treatment. Billions of dollars are being invested to fund hundreds of trials in which cancer patients anxiously plead to participate.

How Does Immunotherapy Work?

Your immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues and biochemicals that protect your body against illnesses caused by viruses, bacteria and other foreign substances. Cancer is particularly stubborn because it often evades detection by the immune system, allowing tumors to grew unchecked.

Immunotherapy comes in two basic forms:

  • Immune cells are removed from a patient, reprogrammed to fight cancer cells, and returned back into the patient’s bloodstream.
  • Checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that block the mechanisms used by cancer cells to shut down the immune system.

State-of-the-Art Cancer Treatment at Issels®

Our founder, Dr. Josef Issels, was a pioneer in the development of immunotherapy, and we’re proud to continue his legacy of helping patients successfully fight cancer. Contact us to learn more about our innovative programs of individually tailored cancer treatments.

Identification of Specific T Cell Presence May Boost Lung Cancer Immunotherapy Treatment Success

New Cancer Research on T Cells
New Cancer Research on T-Cells for Lung Cancer

While immunotherapy for cancer has been a breakthrough for more effective treatment, the challenge is determining which patients will receive the most benefit. A joint US-UK study recently made a discovery that could help solve the problem for lung cancer patients.

Fighting Lung Cancer with T-Cells

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Southampton and La Jolla (CA) Institute for Allergy and Immunology. The team focused on lung cancer, which is the most common cause of cancer deaths in both countries.

Findings showed that lung cancer patients with larger quantities of tissue-resident memory T-cells in their tumors had a 34 percent greater chance of survival. In addition to serving as protection for the patient, these T-cells produce molecules that attack and destroy cancer cells.

This process corresponds nicely with immunotherapy for cancer, which works by boosting the body’s own natural defense mechanisms against disease. Testing lung cancer patients for levels of tissue-resident memory T-cells can provide an indication of the likelihood that they will benefit from immunotherapy.

Understanding the Role of the Immune System and Immunotherapy

Dr. Justine Alford of Cancer Research UK spoke about the importance of such studies to gain insight into the interaction between cancer cells, the immune system and immunotherapy. She adds that research could lead to more personalized treatments for patients with lung cancer and other forms that are difficult to treat.

Personalized Immunotherapy for Cancer at Issels®

For decades, Issels® has been creating personalized immunotherapy programs for patients based on their own unique needs. Contact us to learn more about our testing and treatment methods.

Cancer Treatment Using CAR-T Cells Excites Researchers with Results

There is New Hope for Cancer Patients.
There is New Hope for Cancer Patients.

Some of the most exciting breakthroughs in medicine are coming through research on immunotherapy for cancer. The recent experiences of two cancer patients illustrate why scientists are excited about these innovative treatments.

Programming the Immune System to Fight Cancer

Teenager Emma Collins and seven-year-old Kashaun Lawhown were both battling leukemia that was unresponsive to chemotherapy and radiation. They were chosen to participate in a clinical trial at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

According to Dr. Stephan Grupp, the hospital’s director of immunotherapy, the girls received treatment with CAR-T cells. The procedure involves collecting T-cells from a patient’s own white blood cells and reprogramming them to target and attack cancer cells.

These new CAR-T cells are then reintroduced into the patient’s system, where they begin to multiply and kill off cancer cells. Continued presence of CAR-T cells can also serve as protection against future recurrence.

Positive Results of Immunotherapy for Cancer

Although Kashaun had been fighting leukemia for five years, it took only a single T-cell treatment to put the cancer into remission. Emma’s results were equally astonishing. All signs of cancer were gone just four days after treatment, and she’s remained in remission for 18 months.

At this point, CAR-T therapy has been effective primarily against leukemia and lymphoma, but researchers are exploring the possibilities of use in cases of “solid” tumors such as breast and colon.

Issels®: A Leader in Immunotherapy Treatments

Issels® has been successfully using immunotherapy for cancer on patients of all ages with all forms of tumors. Visit our website to read and hear about our patients’ experiences in their own words.

New Medications Inhibit Cancer Cloaking by IDO Enzyme

New Medications Inhibit Cancer Cloaking by IDO Enzyme
New Medications Inhibit Cancer Cloaking by IDO Enzyme

 Cancer treatment research often focuses on destroying the defenses that prevent the immune system from attacking tumor cells. A promising new immunotherapy drug works by disabling one of these protective enzymes.

Disabling Cancer’s Protective Shield

IDO is an enzyme that shields a fetus from the mother’s immune system, which would perceive the fetus as an infection. During the early 2000s, researchers in Belgium discovered that tumors also express IDO, depriving T-cells of tryptophan, an amino acid that fuels T-cells.

Incyte, a small firm in Wilmington, Delaware, was the first to develop epacadostat, a drug that suppresses production of IDO. The company presented their findings, including results of the first meaningful trial in treating lung cancer, at last June’s meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The Medical Community Reacts

According to Vamil Divan, an analyst at Credit Suisse, Incyte’s impressive presentation generated major interest in doctors and investors alike. Incyte also confirmed earlier research that successfully paired epacadostat with Keytruda, another immunotherapy drug, without a significant increase in side effects.

Approval of the combined epacadostat-Keytruda cancer treatment is pending results of a final trial, expected sometime next year. Merck and Bristol-Myers, two of Incyte’s initial collaborators, are working on development of their own IDO inhibitors.

Issels®: Pioneers of Immunotherapy for Cancer Treatment

IDO inhibitors are just the latest development in the field of immunotherapy, which boosts the power of your own immune system to fight cancer. Contact us to learn why Issels® has been in the forefront of using state-of-the-art immunotherapy to achieve long-term remission in patients of all ages with all forms of cancer.

New Treatment Medications Target Biomarkers in Cancer Versus Location

New Treatment Medications Target Biomarkers in Cancer Versus Location
New Treatment Medications Target Biomarkers in Cancer Versus Location

For many years, cancer treatment has traditionally focused on a tumor’s point of origin. A new form of immunotherapy for cancer that targets biomarkers could open the door for more precise and effective treatment of tumors.

Keytruda: A “Presidential” Immunotherapy for Cancer

Keytruda is the brand name of a drug that had previously been used to treat specific types of cancer such as melanoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, often during Stage IV. The drug earned public notice when former president Jimmy Carter received successful treatment for brain tumors resulting from Stage IV melanoma.

In May 2017, after five clinical trials, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved Keytruda for use in treating tumors with a particular biomarker, regardless of location. At this point, the new use of Keytruda is limited to patients for whom other therapies have been unsuccessful.

Cutting Through the Red Tape

The new application for Keytruda was fast-tracked under the FDA’s Accelerated Approval program. If there’s a serious condition with no options for treatment, a drug can be approved solely on the basis that it’s been shown to shrink tumors.

Dr. Gwen Nichols, chief medical officer of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), expressed excitement for the new approval process. According to Nichols, it lets researchers focus on the biology of tumor development instead of looking for generic treatments.

Immunotherapy for Cancer Is the Talk of the Medical Community

Doctors and scientists have been buzzing about advancements in immunotherapy, but Issels® has been ahead of the curve for decades. Visit our website to learn more about our innovative immunotherapy for cancer treatments that are personally tailored for your individual needs.

Precision Medicine May Allow Specialized Treatment Targeting

Precision Medicine May Allow Specialized Treatment Targeting
Precision Medicine May Allow Specialized Treatment Targeting

The rise of immunotherapy and other advancements in cancer treatment have put a positive light on the longstanding fight against the disease. Unfortunately, more aggressive forms of cancer such as lung, pancreatic and brain continue to resist even the most sophisticated therapies.

Not All Tumors Are Created Equal

Renewed attention to this issue arose during recent reports of Arizona Sen. John McCain’s diagnosis of glioblastoma, a particularly stubborn form of brain cancer. Despite extensive research and testing of innumerable treatment modalities, little progress has been made against glioblastoma.

Researchers have come to realize that a paradigm shift is needed in their approach to these hard-to-treat forms of cancer that don’t “follow the rules” of other types. It’s not enough to simply apply methods used to treat tumors with similar mutations.

Targeting Hard-to-Treat Tumors with Precision Medicine

Precision medicine can help determine why these stubborn cancers have failed to respond to previous treatments. For example, the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative is systematically identifying targets for cancer treatment as well as possible areas of resistance.

The blood-brain barrier is a literal roadblock in treating glioblastoma. This network, located within small blood vessels inside the brain, keeps dangerous toxins and chemicals out, but it also repels drugs designed to attack cancer cells.

Cancer Treatment: One Size Does NOT Fit All

At Issels®, we understand that what works with one patient is not necessarily going to work with another. We use specialized testing methods to create an individual treatment program based on your personal situation. Contact us to learn more about cancer vaccines, NK cells and other non-toxic immunotherapy protocols.