A group of British researchers might have stumbled onto a very exciting breakthrough in cancer treatment.
What they’ve found was, by combining a group of drugs, they could help support the body’s own immune system as a means to fight cancer.
Using two kinds of drugs (ipilimumab and nivolumab) managed to stop the growth of deadly skin cancer melanoma for nearly a year. In the study, 58% of the subjects saw these remarkable results, as The New England Journal of Medicine reported.
This is not the first time these kinds of treatments have worked to help stop cancer growth, and the research is being heralded as one of best possible treatment methods to pursue in the future.
Dr Steven O’Day, an expert with the American Society of Clinical Oncology said, “Immunotherapy drugs have already revolutionized melanoma treatment, and now we’re seeing how they might be even more powerful when they’re combined. “
“But the results also warrant caution — the nivolumab and ipilimumab combination used in this study came with greater side effects, which might offset its benefits for some patients. Physicians and patients will need to weigh these considerations carefully,” O’Day cautioned.
One thing to note. During the treatment period, 36% of the patients were taken off the treatment because of the adverse side effects they experienced.
And, just because these results were promising doesn’t mean doctors are going to be jumping ship and abandoning conventional treatments anytime soon.
Nell Barrie, and who’s with Cancer Research UK, called the results “encouraging” and “promising,” but she also reported much more needs to be learned about the treatments before they can be adapted as a new kind of treatment option.
Dr. James Larkin, who was the lead author of the melanoma study, said what they were able to observe in their study is going to change the game in regards to how cancer is treated in the future.
“We’ve seen these drugs working in a wide range of cancers, and I think we are at the beginning of a new era in treating cancer,” Larkin said.
And, as CNN News writes:
Barrie said immunotherapy could offer hope to people with cancers that are otherwise difficult to treat, such as melanoma, advanced lung cancer or cancer that has spread throughout the body.
“We’re looking at another weapon in the arsenal,” she said.
At the heart of immunotherapy is that cancer — unlike most other diseases — is not an invader. It consists instead of the body’s own cells gone rogue.
So the immune system is not programmed to target the cancerous cells because it does not recognize them as foreign.
The immunotherapy drugs, Barrie said, “work to switch the immune system back on.”
As noted, the results are promising.
Should researchers find this type of treatment produces better cancer fighting results with less harm to the body, it’s hoped more destructive treatments like chemo and radiation could be abandoned.