Chance Collaboration Yields an Advance in Cancer Treatment


“A collaboration between an immunologist helping his stepmother fight cancer and the oncologist who treated her led to a discovery that could help many more patients benefit from a transformative new therapy.

“A new class of drugs called checkpoint inhibitors works by releasing a molecular brake that stops the immune system from attacking tumors. So-called immunotherapy has been approved for several types of cancers and found to extend lives of patients with advanced disease for many years. The problem is that for most patients immunotherapy doesn’t work.

“The researchers, from University of California, San Francisco, said they identified a unique type of immune-system cell that ‘robustly’ predicts whether patients will respond to one of the medicines—an achievement has the potential to significantly expand the number of cancer patients who benefit from checkpoint inhibitors.”

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