Deploying the Body's Army

“More than a century ago, American bone surgeon William Coley came across the case of Fred Stein, whose aggressive cheek sarcoma had disappeared after he suffered a Streptococcus pyogenesinfection following surgery to remove part of the large tumor. Seven years later, Coley tracked Stein down and found him alive, with no evidence of cancer. Amazed, Coley speculated that the immune response to the bacterial infection had played an integral role in fighting the disease, and the doctor went on to inoculate more than 10 other patients suffering from inoperable tumors with Streptococcus bacteria. Sure enough, several of those who survived the infection—and one who did not—experienced tumor reduction.”

Editor’s note: This article is a great overview of immunotherapy for treating cancer. Immunotherapy drugs boost a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. Learn more.