Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Human Immune System Fights Back!

With a lot of help from some amazing medical researchers.  Specifically, the experiences of an individual patient may point the way to a process that allows medical personnel to identify and create genome-specific immune system cells that can be used to battle a wide range of cancers.  From a NYTimes article:
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute sequenced the genome of her cancer and identified cells from her immune system that attacked a specific mutation in the malignant cells. Then they grew those immune cells in the laboratory and infused billions of them back into her bloodstream. The tumors began “melting away,” said Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, the senior author of the article and chief of the surgery branch at the cancer institute.
The woman is not cured: Her tumors are shrinking, but not gone. And an experiment on one patient cannot determine whether a new treatment works. But the report is noteworthy because it describes an approach that may also be applied to common tumors — like those in the digestive tract, ovaries, pancreas, lungs and breasts — that cause more than 80 percent of the 580,000 cancer deaths in the United States every year.