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British Scientists Believe They Have Found A Way To “Steer” The Immune System To Kill Cancers.

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THEME:   LIFE STYLE, NATURE, WORLD

By Serge K | March 4, 2016 12:37 am

They have developed a method, reported in Science journal, for finding unique markings within a tumour – its “Achilles heel” – that the immune system can target.

Dr Stefan Symeonides, clinician scientist in experimental cancer medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said designing a personalised vaccine was currently impractical, especially when a patient needed treatment straight away.

But he added that “it’s not just the number of antigens, it’s how many of the cancer cells have them.”

Scientists believe they have discovered a way to steer the immune system to kill cancers

Scientists believe they have discovered a way to steer the immune system to kill cancers

For cancer patients, the promise of new immune-modulating drugs like the one that apparently helped former President Jimmy Carter comes with a sobering downside: very few get any benefit from them.

But if a new study published on Thursday is right, physicians might be able to figure out which patients those are, sparing others an expensive but useless treatment.

For cancer patients, the promise of new immune-modulating drugs like the one that apparently helped former President Jimmy Carter comes with a sobering downside: very few get any benefit from them.

The study results can also “be used to inform the development of personalized cancer vaccines,” said Van Allen. These experimental treatments, which are tailor-made to a patient’s neoantigen profile, are being tested in clinical trials now. They are designed to stimulate the immune system to attack neoantigens on tumors, but scientists hadn’t been sure which neoantigens would make the best vaccines.

The personalized nature of the treatments meant they were likely to be very expensive at first, Prof Swanton said. But he hoped they would eventually prove more cost-effective than current cancer drugs because the benefits would last for longer. The 71 cancer drugs approved by US regulators in the past 12 years have produced a median survival rate of just 2.1 extra months of life at an average cost of $10,000 per month, said Prof Swanton.

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