Immunotherapy Rocks

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cover-enclosureImmunotherapy rocks or, in the more restrained but equally enthusiastic language of Science Magazine, “Cancer Immunotherapy is the Medical Breakthrough of 2013.” From a press release,

“The editors of Science magazine picked cancer immunotherapy as 2013’s major medical breakthrough achievement. Cancer immunotherapy is the use of the immune system to fight cancer. This is done by stimulating the patient’s immune system to attack cancer cells. According to an article on NewsObserver.com, “Scientists have thought for decades that harnessing the immune system to battle tumors should be possible, but it has been incredibly difficult to make it work.”

“So far, this strategy of harnessing the immune system to attack tumours works only for some cancers and a few patients, so it’s important not to overstate the immediate benefits. But many cancer specialists are convinced that they are seeing the birth of an important new paradigm for cancer treatment,” said Tim Appenzeller, chief news editor of Science magazine (1).

Cancer researchers say that they “have turned a corner because two different techniques are helping a subset of patients. One involves antibodies that release a brake on (or stimulate) T cells (a type of white blood cell), giving them the power to tackle tumors. Another involves genetically modifying an individual’s T cells outside the body so that they are better able to target cancer, and then re-infusing them so they can do just that. (2).

I love being cutting edge but I love more the prospect of living with this disease versus dying from it. As a cancer patient who has experienced treatment that didn’t work (scary!), the jury stays out on how I will respond to immunotherapy. My fingers stay crossed.

Cancer-Research-Institute-What-is-Cancer-Immunotherapy-infographic

As the Science Magazine experts themselves debated,

“In celebrating cancer immunotherapy—harnessing the immune system to battle tumors—did we risk hyping an approach whose ultimate impact remains unknown? Were we irresponsible to label as a breakthrough a strategy that has touched a tiny fraction of cancer patients and helped only some of them? What do we mean when we call something a breakthrough, anyway?”

But then they went on to say, “Ultimately, we concluded, cancer immunotherapy passes the test. It does so because this year, clinical trials have cemented its potential in patients and swayed even the skeptics. The field hums with stories of lives extended: the woman with a grapefruit-size tumor in her lung from melanoma, alive and healthy 13 years later; the 6-year-old near death from leukemia, now in third grade and in remission; the man with metastatic kidney cancer whose disease continued fading away even after treatment stopped.

As the anecdotes coalesce into data, there’s another layer, too, a sense of paradigms shifting. Immunotherapy marks an entirely different way of treating cancer—by targeting the immune system, not the tumor itself. Oncologists, a grounded-in-reality bunch, say a corner has been turned and we won’t be going back.”

The full text of their thinking is fascinating and worth a read. It is time to celebrate the promise of immunotherapy.Unknown

To access my clinical trial took endurance. I not only had to be clinically stable but I needed to countdown to my start date for Medicare, a wonderful government run insurance plan that allowed me to have costs covered even if my care was in Philadelphia. Effective January 1, 2014 the Affordable Care Act (which contains many great improvements even as the rollout leaves us cursing – Oregon being one of the worst states for enrollment fiascos) removes barriers for cancer patients choosing to access clinical trials in state or out of state. Please check out this boring but highly informative webinar that explains cancer care and the affordable care act to look at the list of ways your treatment obstacles may be being reduced right now. Spread the word.

If you know someone seeking a clinical trial I direct you to this resource that I first posted last July.

Finding a Clinical Trial Just Got Easier BY JON GARINN

By almost any measure, clinicaltrials.gov, the website administered by the National Institutes of Health, sets the standard for providing public access to comprehensive information from around the world about research on experimental treatments for an array of diseases and conditions. Yet, despite more than a decade of efforts to improve its functionality, simplify access to its database and synthesize its information, navigating the site can be a challenge.

That’s why a Florida doctor teamed with healthcare professionals from dozens of medical centers, research institutes and medical schools to develop MyClinicalTrialLocator. MyClinicalTrialLocator.com, a site designed to make searching for a trial easier.

Designed for patients as well as medical professionals, the site not only utilizes the government database for clinical trial information but also includes important updates from medical centers conducting the research and enables users to search for trials anywhere in the world. In addition to studies of drugs and medications, the site also details studies of medical devices, procedures and interventions, and lifestyle factors, such as nutrition, diet and exercise. Users simply enter the name of their condition, their location and the distance they are willing to travel. Listings provide a plain-language summary of the trial, including recruitment information, eligibility criteria and contact details.

The service is free, and access is open to any user, though visitors are encouraged to establish an account so that they can save their searches and receive customized email updates and automatic notifications based on their search criteria. To learn more, visit MyClinicalTrialLocator.com.

There is also http://www.cancertrialshelp.org/cancer-trial-search/.

Go find the best match for you or your loved one.  xo marcy

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14 responses »

  1. You are just one absolutley amazing woman, marcy! I have followed your posts from caring bridge thru this blog. I rarely comment cuz i just don’t know what to say…i cry, i smile, my heart swells with emotion, but the words seem meaningless. But i want you to know i am aware and conscious of your presence (I have the painted rock that ruined your eyes on my coffee table daily reminding me of you) and your fight and I send positive healing thoughts often. With utmost respect, admiration and love, Kathy

  2. This is such hopeful news. I applied for a 2 such immunotherapy trials here in Atlanta, but did not meet the criteria for either, for different reasons. I was disappointed but am hopeful for these trials and maybe there will be another for me.

    Thanks for posting.

  3. This is such hopeful news. I applied for a 2 such immunotherapy trials here in Atlanta, but did not meet the criteria for either, for different reasons. I was disappointed but am hopeful for these trials and maybe there will be another for me. I wish you health and happiness in the new year!
    Thanks for posting.

  4. Along your usual lines, you help many, many others while you stride forward to help yourself.You have an indomitable way of care and compassion for others, thinking always to help and share. As you share with us the things you go through in your chase of life, I think of how valuable the gifts that you give to both science, and to us. I have much respect for you and I hold you up daily as an example of how to live. I heard good things about this therapy, and for the new year, perhaps, a glimmer of hope. . . .

  5. If you had to get this crappy cancer, I’m glad you got it just when a new window of hope for treatment opened up. Of course, I wish you hadn’t gotten it at all.

  6. Just found this post. thanks for all the excellent information. I forwarded it to health care providers as well as friends dealing with cancer.

  7. Hi Marcy,
    I wholeheartedly agree that immunotherapy rocks. I was disappointed that the article in Science ignored many promising immunotherapy treatments from years prior to 2013. The most important ones that I’m interested in, that were not mentioned, are: 1) Vitamin D; 2) GcMAF; 3) A ketogenic diet; 4) Coley’s Toxins; and 5) Iodine.
    I’m thinking of posting a lot of links about these therapies, but I’m not sure that this is the time or place to get into all of that. Would you like me to proceed now, or hold off?

    Hope this helps, Russ

    • Many of your references are intriguing. Not sure I have seen much from the ketogenic diet, though. I find it interesting that the cloudy places of Holland, Washington and Oregon lead in cancer rates. Hmmm – how does vit d play in? I am not familiar with GcMAF. thanks for your interest!

      • Thanks for replying, Marcy. I hope you find the following helpful.

        I think the ketogenic diet and vitamin D are the easiest to implement because anyone can start using them today. To begin with, here is a copy of a comment I submitted to your Thanksgiving post, on the ketogenic diet:
        Hi GayLynn,
        Thank you for posting the link: http://www.examiner.com/article/low-carb-ketogenic-diet-beats-chemo-for-most-cancers-says-dr-thomas-seyfried . You have encouraged me, by your example, to contribute what I can. I hope what I have to add is helpful. Cancer as a Metabolic Disease is actually an old paradigm developed by Otto Warburg, who, according to Wikipedia, “Warburg is considered one of the 20th century’s leading biochemists.[2] He was the sole recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1931.[1] In total, he was nominated for the award 47 times over the course of his career.[3] Warburg investigated the metabolism of tumors and the respiration of cells, particularly cancer cells, and in 1931 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology for his “discovery of the nature and mode of action of the respiratory enzyme.”[1]”.
        The ketogenic diet is designed to deny (most all) cancer cells the fuel they desperately require: glucose. Most all cancers cannot thrive in a low glucose environment, whereas non-cancer cells are quite content to use ketones for fuel, which most all cancer cells cannot. So eating a ketogenic diet can make your body unfriendly to cancer, in a nutshell. Here are some other links on the “nuts and bolts” of Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2845135/ , and Cancer as a metabolic disease: implications for novel therapeutics: http://carcin.oxfordjournals.org/content/35/3/515.long . See also: Thomas N. Seyfried professor of biology: http://www.bc.edu/schools/cas/biology/facadmin/seyfried.html .

        And here is part of a comment I made on: How vitamin D prevents cancer: “I think you will find this vid interesting: How Vitamin D Reduces Incidence of Cancer: DINOMIT Model: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GM0CnO6-ds . It is, imho, one of the very best vids on “vitamin D and cancer”. It eased my mind a great deal about the threat of cancer. It is part of an outstanding seminar on vitamin D presented by UCSD; search on youtube for “UCSD, vitamin D” to find the rest of the seminar, if your interest is perked.” In this vid, the very question you asked about vitamin D and cancer is addressed.

        GcMAF is the newest immunotherapeutic cancer treatment, and therefor the least researched. A very impressive free ebook by Dr. Tim Smith about how GcMAF can eradicate cancer, can be found at: http://gcmaf.timsmithmd.com/ . As far as I know, the next site is gcmaf.eu , which is the only source of gcmaf that I know of. This is cutting-edge stuff, so due diligence is required. All I can say about GcMAF is: Yikes! If it works as claimed, then we are on the cusp of a revolution in cancer treatment. Of course, Big Pharma is not going to take the destruction of one of their most profitable group of products lying down. As we speak, Dr. Nobuto Yamamoto, the champion of GcMAF, is being attacked by his colleagues. One of his revolutionary papers was actually withdrawn, which is very damaging to his reputation. I would suggest keeping an open mind.

        So Marcy, here is a bucket of hope for you.

        Russ

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