Immunotherapy

Can our bodies be trained to fight cancer through immunotherapy?  An article was contributed to Live Science’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights on how powerful the human immune system is and how complex.  Author of the Live article is Balveen Kaurand Pravin Kaumaya of the Ohio State University.  Invaders of nearly infinite variety can be identified and destroyed while sparing the more than 30 trillion cells of the healthy body.  Research teams are developing novel treatments to harness the full potential of the body’s natural defenses with new insights into the interactions between cancer and the immune system.  This is what immunotherapy is. New Hope Unlimited has been using immunotherapy successfully for years.

Researchers are using animal models and clinical trials to use techniques that will train the immune system to recognize and attack cancer as the enemy.  Traditional medicine uses synthetic drugs to help the immune system find and destroy cancer cells and another is through vaccines that teach the body to recognize the cancer cells. New Hope Unlimited uses all natural products to do the same.

The pairing of immunotherapies with modified viruses that attack tumor cells and keep them from returning are being revealed by recent studies.  These new weapons provide hope that cancer can ultimately be defeated by harnessing the immune system. The immune system springs into action when foreign cells infect the body.

 Antibodies are produced that bind to proteins called antigens on the surface of the foreign cell.

Antigens produced by cancer cells are not normal and don’t bind to their antigens so the immune system does not destroy them.  These barricades stay shielded and weaken immune cells. They are then allowed to grow unchecked, developing blood vessels and invading into other tissues.  The immune system can be educated by immunotherapy to produce antibodies that can bind to the antigens on cancer cells, thus blocking the growth-promoting function of these antigenic proteins or to flag them for recognition and destruction by immune cells.

Some drugs can bind to cancer cell antigens and mark them for death.  Trastuzumab (Herceptin) is a monoclonal antibody that binds to an antigen human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 found in abundance on some of the most deadly breast cancers.  The perception binding triggers an immune assault on the breast cancer cells.

Antibody-mediated therapy has shown promise but such drugs are not always a cure and very expensive leaving the family with a huge burden.  Another approach is using vaccines to fight cancer cells. Synthetic proteins can drain the immune system to recognize antigens on cancer cells, inoculating a patient against a cancer for a year at a time and at a far less cost per patient of less than $1,000. Of course, the patient does end up paying more than that.

Viruses can be trained to attack cancer, with more than 1 benefit.  They directly assault tumor cells and can massively replicate with the diseased cells, causing them to explode.  As immunotherapies evolve and grow more effective, combination therapies bring every available treatment when cancer strikes.  Patients will respond differently to personalized treatment. The biggest challenge in viral and immunotherapy is to harness the good to destroy cancer without the potential toxicity that could become lethal and destroy nonmalignant cells.

 Dr Fredda Branyon