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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.”

James Allison, Ph.D.

Photographer: F. Carter Smith

Unleashing the immune system’s attack dogs

The first drug to improve the survival of people with end-stage melanoma works because of what it doesn’t do: attack tumors directly.

Trial fits attack on melanoma to a T

By boosting the number of T cells in his patients, Patrick Hwu is watching their immune systems defeat cancer.

The clone wars

Late in 2007, Michael Gunter noticed a tiny, colorless bump on his left cheek. "It looked so innocent," he recalls.

Born to beat cancer

Marit Peterson may be genetically predisposed to melanoma, but the disease was no match for her and her team.

Strength in numbers: Send in the reinforcements

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.

The Cancer Center Support Grant

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.

Building a better T cell

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.

When good genetic mutation goes bad

Generally speaking, hypermutation and DNA damage in a cell are bad things. That is, unless you’re talking about an immune system B cell.

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center