Immunotherapy, a new alternative to treat cancer


A new alternative to treat cancer is yielding positive results throughout the world; It is a treatment consisting in stimulating the immune system so that it fights the cancer cells of the body.

Specifically in Mexico, the success story of Isolde was recently known, a woman who had been detected six tumors in different parts of the body and the presence of more aggressive skin cancer: melanoma, in its terminal stage.

The diagnosis was decisive: no more than three months of life. The tumors that I had were not operable. Neither chemotherapy nor radiation could be an option because they are palliative, because melanoma is very aggressive and does not react. There was practically nothing left to do, declared this woman in an interview with Televisa News. But the doctors of the National Cancer Institute decided to try a new alternative still under investigation, the immunotherapy.

This strategy against cancer was developed by the American James P. Allison and the Japanese Tasuku Honjo, who, for their research and results about proteins that act as a brake on the immune system and how to release it, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology at the 2018

Although greater effectiveness has been observed when combining immunotherapy with some of the traditional treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy, this option has been a revelation that implies less toxicity for the body and is effective in cancers that are difficult to treat, such as those housed in the lungs and the liver.

Immunotherapy makes the immune system fight against tumors developed by the body, avoiding attacking healthy cells, which does not occur with treatments such as chemotherapy. Allison discovered that a known protein acts as a brake for T lymphocytes to be activated to protect cells; Honjo found in turn the action of another protein on T lymphocytes, with a different mechanism and how to block it to enhance the body's action to fight cancer.

Today, two years away from the start of her treatment, which is administered intravenously - she received a total of 35 injections in this period -, Isolde has achieved total cancer remission, the tumors were dissolving, disappearing, she says. the patient.

Access to this treatment can cost up to 180 thousand pesos per month, which is why some patients go to medical centers with active research about treatment, in order to be able to undergo it without cost and, at the same time, be collaborators in the studies and research that is still done to know more about its effectiveness.

Finding Another Treatment Option for Stage 4 Lung Cancer: K.C.’s Immunotherapy Story (December 2021)