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ICYMI: NYT Chronicles Advances in Cancer Landscape Due to Immunotherapy

August 3, 2016
This week, the New York Times published a series of articles titled Cell Wars which explores the novel uses of immunotherapy to combat cancer. Patient stories were shared where immunotherapy cured them of lung, prostate, liver, and brain cancer. Included were stories of researchers who have dedicated their lives to finding new treatments and cures. As the article states, there is a new era of optimism — a sense that they have begun tapping into a force of nature, the medical equivalent of splitting the atom. Yet, there is still work to be done. While immunotherapy has saved lives, it has only worked in a minority of patients, and researchers are on the hunt to find out why so they can continue to create these new and improved life-saving drugs.
Twenty percent to 40 percent of patients, sometimes more, have good responses. But for many patients, the drugs do not work at all. For others, they work for a while and then stop.

As the NYT points out, some of the most promising cancer research advances in recent years stem from immunotherapy – treatments that use the patient’s immune system to fight diseases rather than attacking cancer directly like chemo does. These therapies are just the tip of the iceberg and demonstrate the tremendous potential of biopharmaceutical innovation.
Harnessing the immune system to fight cancer, long a medical dream, is becoming a reality. Remarkable stories of tumors melting away and terminal illnesses going into remissions that last years — backed by solid data — have led to an explosion of interest and investments in the rapidly growing field of immunotherapy.

There is no doubt that immunotherapy is a game-changer. It is fundamentally changing the way we think about cancer therapy and enabling doctors to help patients in unexpected ways – giving them real hope that they will survive for years to come! With 1.7 million cases of cancer diagnosed in the United States each year, biopharmaceutical innovation holds the power to find these cures and the responsibility to strip the death sentence associated with the words “you have cancer” once and for all.

Explore the stories in this series: