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"Redesigning our immune systems to attack cancer" Topic


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95 hits since 30 Aug 2017
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Dwindling Gravitas Inactive Member30 Aug 2017 1:31 p.m. PST

My 1st post in Science, so please forgive any breaches of etiquette!

BBC article link: link

The US has approved the first treatment to redesign a patient's own immune system so it attacks cancer.
The regulator – the US Food and Drug Administration – said its decision was a "historic" moment and medicine was now "entering a new frontier".
The company Novartis is charging $475,000 USD (367,000) for the therapy, which leaves 83% of people free of a type of blood cancer.
Doctors in the UK said the announcement was an exciting step forward.
The "living drug" is tailor-made to each patient, unlike conventional therapies such as surgery or chemotherapy.
It is called CAR-T and is made by extracting white blood cells from the patient's blood.
The cells are then genetically reprogrammed to seek out and kill cancer.
The cancer-killers are then put back inside the patient and once they find their target they multiply.

At least a step in the right direction, acknowledging that cancer (any kind) is a very individual problem, with no 'across-the-board cures'?

jdpintex31 Aug 2017 6:10 a.m. PST

Great news!

But isn't this how Will Smith's "I Am Legend" began?

Personal logo Great War Ace Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 8:29 a.m. PST

This sort of thing scares the crap outta me. Some researchers are too big for their own britches.

If it does work, the implications are far beyond cancer. Any specifically targeted disease could be eradicated through a boosted immune system.

But, I've maintained for decades, that cancer is a daily ongoing occurrence. We fight it off constantly. Cancer is actually the replicating and replacing of cells gone awry. So it is a burgeoning threat continually throughout our lives. A strong immune system is what makes the difference between "getting cancer" or fighting it off, with no one the wiser to the constant battle. When we detect cancer in its first stages and leap to treat it, we are in all likelihood just making the body's effort to combat it that much more difficult: now the body has to fight off the cancer with a weakened immune system because of the chemo effects.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 10:43 a.m. PST

Some researchers are too big for their own britches.

Ya, those bastards. Imagine trying to cure cancer!

But, I've maintained for decades, that cancer is a daily ongoing occurrence. We fight it off constantly. Cancer is actually the replicating and replacing of cells gone awry. So it is a burgeoning threat continually throughout our lives. A strong immune system is what makes the difference between "getting cancer" or fighting it off, with no one the wiser to the constant battle.

Right.

When we detect cancer in its first stages and leap to treat it, we are in all likelihood just making the body's effort to combat it that much more difficult: now the body has to fight off the cancer with a weakened immune system because of the chemo effects.

Wrong.

Chemotherapy doesn't work by weakening the immune system. Chemotherapy is generally using animetabolites. This means they generally interfere with DNA and RNA synthesis. In that way they interfere with EVERY type of cell in your body. That is why they have serious side effects.

The point is that they are selectively targeting cells based on their metabolic activity. Cancer cell have much greater metabolic activity as they grow and divide at much, much faster rates than normal cells. Therefore interfering with their greater need for DNA and RNA synthesis is the best way to target them while only somewhat interfering with our normal cells. It is finding that fine balance that is the art of chemotherapeutic oncology.

We do hamper the immune system, but the immune system has already failed us as it cannot recognize the cancer cells growing and spreading. If it did their would be no cancer growth and no chemotherapy needed.

Targeting specific cancer cells with modified T-Cells is the best way to fine tune the attack without using undiscriminating antimetabolites. Instead of attacking and impeding all cells, the T-cells only lock on to the cancer cells themselves by being drawn to special markers on the cancer cells which are hidden to the normal immune system.

Personal logo Great War Ace Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 2:45 p.m. PST

Thanks for clearing that up. It doesn't substantially alter the results. If the body is already failing to fight off cancer then you are right. But a lot of cancer treatment could be deferred and let the immune system do its job. Cancer treatment is applied too soon, thus weakening the body, including the immune system. Discovering cancer at a very early stage and doing something about it isn't always a good idea.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 4:59 p.m. PST

But a lot of cancer treatment could be deferred and let the immune system do its job. Cancer treatment is applied too soon, thus weakening the body, including the immune system

No you are still not getting it.

Aberrant cells may be happening all the time. They will look weird to the immune cells policing the body. This means they will have weird shapes or have different proteins on their surfaces indicating that they are "different". Through a complex cascade of chemical activity they will be marked and destroyed by our immune cells. Good so far.

Some aberrant cells will begin dividing very quickly and will overwhelm the immune system that can't react quick enough, or will not display significant outward changes to trigger an immune response. They will continue growing, and perhaps spread to other parts of the body, all without the immune system responding. No we have a cancer growth.

So traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy targeted thei elevated growth rate of the cancer cells. However, the antimetabolite chemicals and radiation affected all the cells, not just the cancer cells. This new way is tweaking the specific killer T-cells to recognize specific markers on an individuals cancer cells to only attack the bad cells. The recognition of the aberrant cells is becoming more specific, hence a better, more individualistic therapy. Think of using a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer.

You always want to catch cancer as early as possible and treat it as soon as possible. All epidemiological studies indicate that is the best way for maximum survival.

Personal logo Great War Ace Supporting Member of TMP01 Sep 2017 6:55 a.m. PST

Not what I read years ago. Perhaps that is the problem: years ago. Things have changed? Personal experience does not point to that. My nephew had a bowel blockage removed. The tests followed. Blue cell cancer (whatever the hell that is) was found starting in his liver. They applied chemo. He continued to get worse. They tried a different chemo. Now he was visibly sick as they tried a third round. He nearly died but "miraculously" recovered enough to continue on for most of three more months, and into round four. His last pics as he died look like a parchment stretched skeleton.

Of course, because of what I read, I suspect that all of that chemo weakened his young body too much. He might have licked it on his own………….

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP01 Sep 2017 4:09 p.m. PST

Sorry to hear that and my condolences. Even with proper treatment the 5 year survival rate is only 15%.

sarcomahelp.org/dsrct.html

link

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