Treat the immune system, attack the cancer
Annual Report - Winter 2014
Detect. Destroy. Remember.
Those words serve as our immune system’s mantra. It applies both to invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, and to our own defective cells. So how does cancer evade or defeat such a vigilant and versatile foe?
Scientist James Allison uncovered an answer, developed a breakthrough cancer treatment and now leads MD Anderson’s efforts to let loose the immune system on cancer.
“There are people on the early trials who remain disease-free
up to 12 years later.”
The first drug to improve the survival of people with end-stage melanoma works because of what it doesn’t do: attack tumors directly.
By boosting the number of T cells in his patients, Patrick Hwu is watching their immune systems defeat cancer.
Late in 2007, Michael Gunter noticed a tiny, colorless bump on his left cheek. "It looked so innocent," he recalls.
Marit Peterson may be genetically predisposed to melanoma, but the disease was no match for her and her team.
When immune system T cells that can’t kill a patient’s cancer get a shot at those same tumor cells in the lab, it’s another story altogether.
Every five years, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) evaluates the research programs and facilities at MD Anderson to determine if its status as a comprehensive cancer center will be renewed.
Treatments relying on T cells, a key component of the body’s immune system, have had significant success, but a new experimental method customizes naturally produced cells to sharpen their attack on cancer.
Generally speaking, hypermutation and DNA damage in a cell are bad things. That is, unless you’re talking about an immune system B cell.