New cancer treatment shows promise
7 Healthcast: New cancer treatment shows promise
UNDATED (WHDH) -- There's a promising new study getting a lot of attention; doctors hope it could lead to a new avenue of attack against some of the deadliest forms of cancer.
It is an entirely new approach, using the body's immune system to kill cancer has helped David Gobin, a retired Baltimore policeman who had advanced lung cancer.
"I was basically looking at living month to month," Gobin said.
Scans show his tumor melting away over a period of months.
Ken Kirkwood, who had advanced kidney cancer, saw similar results.
"I couldn't believe it, but in about four to five months or so, I uh was starting to see some shrinkage in my lymph nodes, in my lungs, and my in the area where my kidney had been removed," Kirkwood said.
Doctors at Johns Hopkins also saw positive results with advanced melanoma.
“There is a common denominator for many kinds of cancers,” Dr. Suzanne Topalian, at Johns Hopkins School of Medecine, said. “In our view, this is really unprecedented. We are standing on a threshold, there are so many exciting opportunities at this time
The treatment is in its earliest phase.
"Typically in a phase-one trial you don't expect much in the way of clinical activity, but we actually saw activity -- tumor shrinkage in some patients' tumors completely shrinking away,” Dr. Julie Brahmer said.
Here's how the treatment works: white blood cells which routinely attack bacteria and viruses often try to kill cancer cells -- but the cancer puts up a barrier. The treatment is designed to bring down that barrier and let the body kill the cancer.
Of the nearly three hundred people in the study, tumors shrank in 18 to 28 percent of them -- depending on the type of cancer.
At this weekend's conference, planning is already underway for bigger trials in patients with less advanced cancer, comparing the effectiveness with other cancer treatments and looking at side effects.
For more than a century scientists have been trying to harness the body's immune system to fight cancer. It appears that all that effort is finally starting to pay off.
"I just wanted live long enough for the cure. And maybe I have. And maybe I'm part of it," David Gobin said.