Behind The Latest Breast Cancer Research
With Robert Siegel
Two new breast cancer studies out this week. One shows that women who receive chemo might not actually need it. The other looks at immunotherapy. We’ll discuss.
Dr. Ned Sharpless, director, National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. (@NCIDirector)
From The Reading List:
Los Angeles Times: “Many breast cancer patients can skip chemo, study finds” — “Most women with the most common form of early-stage breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy without hurting their chances of beating the disease, doctors are reporting from a landmark study that used genetic testing to gauge each patient’s risk.
The study is the largest ever done of breast cancer treatment, and the results are expected to spare up to 70,000 patients a year in the United States and many more elsewhere the ordeal and expense of these drugs.
“The impact is tremendous,” said the study leader, Dr. Joseph Sparano of Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Most women in this situation don’t need treatment beyond surgery and hormone therapy, he said.
The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, some foundations and proceeds from the U.S. breast cancer postage stamp. Results were discussed Sunday at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago and published by the New England Journal of Medicine. Some study leaders consult for breast cancer drugmakers or for the company that makes the gene test.”
National Institutes Of Health: “New approach to immunotherapy leads to complete response in breast cancer patient unresponsive to other treatments” — “A novel approach to immunotherapy developed by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has led to the complete regression of breast cancer in a patient who was unresponsive to all other treatments. This patient received the treatment in a clinical trial led by Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Surgery Branch at NCI’s Center for Cancer Research (CCR), and the findings were published June 4, 2018 in Nature Medicine. NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health.
‘We’ve developed a high-throughput method to identify mutations present in a cancer that are recognized by the immune system,’ Dr. Rosenberg said. ‘This research is experimental right now. But because this new approach to immunotherapy is dependent on mutations, not on cancer type, it is in a sense a blueprint we can use for the treatment of many types of cancer.'”
CBS: “Groundbreaking treatment saves life of woman with late-stage breast cancer” — ” ‘I came to realize that I was going to die, and that’s where my mind was,” [Perkins] said. “I felt bad for my family, but I was grateful for the life I had had.”
Then Perkins found Dr. Steven Rosenberg at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Rosenberg is a pioneer in harnessing the immune system to fight cancer. Genetic mutations in cells are cancer’s trigger, causing those cells to grow out of control. Rosenberg’s new approach is to find the few immune cells already in the body that can see those genetic mutations and turn them into an army of cancer killers.
In a lab, Rosenberg’s team grew those few immune cells into billions, then injected them into Perkins’ bloodstream. There, they ganged up to attack cancer cells.
‘I think it had been maybe 10 days since I’d gotten the cells, and I could already feel that tumor starting to get soft,’ Perkins said. ‘By then I was like, ‘Dang, this is really working.’
Perkins remains cancer-free two and half years later. Rosenberg believes the army of immune cells are still at work.”
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