Tag Archives: integrative medicine

Immunotherapy: Investigating Cancer Research

The proliferation and advent of technology in medical research has spurred new techniques and treatments to combat cancer, a disease with an alarming mortality rate that will lead to an estimated 1,685,210 new cases in 2016, and 595,690 deaths.

The model of immunotherapy—using one’s body as the tool with which to fight cancer—has been considered an experimental treatment since its conception, in stark contrast to the standard chemotherapy and radiation that is traditionally offered for cancer patients. While chemotherapy directly attacks the cancer, immunotherapy harnesses the patient’s own immune system to fight off the disease.

The most widely used forms of immunotherapy include drugs called checkpoint inhibitors, which block a mechanism used by cancer cells to shut down the immune system, and cell therapy, which involves removing a patient’s immune cells, genetically altering them to help fight cancer, multiplying them, and ultimately infusing them back into the bloodstream.

While pharmaceutical companies initially were disinterested in the research and science, favoring drugs that had the ability to be mass-produced and treat everyone, drug companies are progressively funneling more money into clinical trials and tests—attempting to understand the powerful and critically important tool further.

Quoted in a New York Times article, Dr. Jedd Wolchok, chief of melanoma and immunotherapeutics services at Memorial Sloan Kettering, articulated what many doctors are experiencing as they begin to utilize this therapy, once considered a mere pipe dream: “This is a fundamental change in the way that we think about cancer therapy.”

Other doctors that have seen almost miraculous results in clinical trials have expressed similar sentiments: “Think of how dauntingly personalized this is,” says Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute. “We are using their own cells to treat a unique mutation in their own tumor.” This individualized treatment has been proven to be effective in many cases, generating complete remissions in many patients who felt they were out of options.

Yet while immunotherapy has proven to be stunningly successful in several cases, doctors are continuing to explore why the treatment has a higher efficacy in some patients, while others relapse. Moreover, the arduous, lengthy, and complex process of re-engineering and duplicating cells is very costly, and is still undergoing scrutiny and examination.

Want more information about our Integrative Cancer Therapies Fellowship? Gain access to cutting-edge therapy modalities, along with a particular segment targeted towards the immunology of cancer, coupled with updated information and research surrounding immunotherapy. Learn more today

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10 Proteins Top Alzheimer’s Biomarkers

Often, the biological processes of Alzheimer’s Disease begin many years prior to the display of symptoms, making the pursuit of predictive diagnostics a paramount effort.  Simon Lovestone, from King’s College London (United Kingdom), and colleagues analyzed blood samples from 1,148 people: 476 with Alzheimer’s, 220 with mild cognitive impairment and 452 elderly controls without dementia. The researchers honed in on 26 proteins previously found to be linked with Alzheimer’s Disease, and found that 16 of the  proteins were strongly associated with brain shrinkage in either mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s.  The team then ran a second series of tests to see which of these could predict which patients would progress from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s; they identified a combination of 10 proteins capable of predicting with 87% accuracy whether people with mild cognitive impairment would develop Alzheimer’s disease within a year.  Writing that: “We have identified 10 plasma proteins strongly associated with [Alzheimer’s] disease severity and disease progression,” the study authors submit that:  “Such markers may be useful for patient selection for clinical trials and assessment of patients with predisease subjective memory complaints.”  For the news source visit: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/07/08/us-health-alzheimers-idUKKBN0FC2IC20140708

Hye A, Riddoch-Contreras J, Baird AL, Ashton NJ, Bazenet C, Lovestone S, et al.  “Plasma proteins predict conversion to dementia from prodromal disease.”  Alzheimers Dement. 2014 Jul 3.

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