A new drug to cure skin cancer from the roots
One of the most common cancers in the UK is skin cancer with reporting 13,000 new cases each year. There is a new hope for the patients suffering from the disease. Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, in Seattle, Washington have treated a patient aged 53 years, who had the condition of metastatic melanoma. For the first time, experts tried two various kinds of immunotherapy.
With previous treatment, the patient responded less and cancer has begun to spread. However, within few weeks of new immunotherapy, the tumors began to disappear.
The study published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, lead author Dr. Cassian Yee said that, amazingly, after the five years of treatment, the patient has not developed cancer again.
Immunotherapy utilizes the body’s own immune system to survive against cancer. Experts around the world are excited about the new drug which can be marked as a victory against the skin cancer.
Further benefits of the therapy are expected to be displayed later this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in Chicago, which is one of the world’s biggest cancer conferences.
Dr. Rebecca Kristeleit, a consultant Medical Oncologist at University College London Hospital, who was not among the researchers in the study at Washington said, “We are beginning to start thinking about using that word ‘cure’. As an oncologist, it’s not a word that you would ever say because we talk a lot about being ‘in remission’ but ‘cure’ is the Holy Grail.
She added, “With some of the immunotherapies, some patients appear to just go on and on with no resurgence of the disease so that’s obviously what we are chasing with all the work we’re doing. From my perspective and from patients’ perspective it is an extremely exciting time. They’re really making a difference, these immunotherapy drugs.”
Immunotherapy is proving effective in the battle against skin cancer.
Skin cancer is getting more common in the UK; the basic reasons for developing the condition are greater exposure to UV rays from the sun and sun beds. More than 2,000 British people lost their lives every year from skin cancer.
The new therapy to fight melanoma is based on increasing the immune system’s ability to focus on tumors and demolish them.
There have been two types of methods to destroy tumors. In immunotherapy treatment, patient’s T cells are modified, so they can work against melanoma and later move them back into the patient.
The second approach is treating patients with ipilimumab. It is a drug which helps to activate patient’s anti-tumor T cells by closing the operation of a protein called CTLA4.
Experts have been failing to cure the disease completely with using these two methods separately. So, doctors at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research centre has experimented the combination of both types of approaches.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre said in a statement, “Within weeks, the patient’s tumours began to shrink, and they eventually disappeared completely. Yee and colleagues report that, over five years later, the patient remains disease free.”
However, experts from the UK said that it was far early to say if the combination could benefit all patients suffering from skin cancer because the findings were based on only one patient.
Chief of Cancer Research UK, Professor Peter Johnson said, “We know from our research in the last few years that treatments which can get the immune system to target cancers like melanoma are helpful for some people, but we are always looking for ways to make them more effective. Combining antibodies like ipilimumab with a patient’s own T-cells may one way to do this, so this is an interesting trial and we look forward to seeing more results as it goes on.”