On the heels of two more cancer immunotherapy approvals this month, CNN asked the question “Can your own immune system kill cancer?” Although that idea was first proposed over a century ago, only recently have we been able to definitively answer that question: Yes.
The Cancer Research Institute (CRI) can trace its origins to the very beginning of that quest, which as the CNN article points out began with a New York City surgeon named William B. Coley, whose daughter Helen founded CRI in 1953. At that time, few believed in immunotherapy’s potential, and “many people for many years didn't think the immune system was really going to have a role in any treatment for cancer,” Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D., CEO and director of scientific affairs at the Cancer Research Institute, notes in the CNN article.
As Philip D. Greenberg, M.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a member of CRI’s Scientific Advisory Council, notes in the article,
“Immunotherapy has essentially undergone a sort of revolution in the last decade in the sense that something that was experimental…is completely turned around, and now it's clear it's effective.
Although the term immunotherapy may make it sound like it’s a single strategy, Dr. O’Donnell-Tormey clarifies that it “really refers to treatments that use your own immune system to recognize, control and hopefully ultimately cure cancers.”
Many of these different immunotherapy approaches―including checkpoint inhibitors, oncolytic viruses, cell-based therapies, and anti-cancer vaccines―were highlighted at September’s International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference, which CRI hosted along with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy (CIMT), and the European Association of Tumor Immunology (EATI).
Many patients have benefitted from immunotherapy already; the FDA has approved immunotherapy treatments for melanoma, lymphoma, lung cancer, kidney cancer, and prostate cancer. However, there is still much more work to do to improve immunotherapy’s effectiveness and extend its benefits to more patients.
To that end, we at the Cancer Research Institute remain steadfast in our commitment to advancing immunotherapy, by supporting the world’s foremost doctors and scientists, and enabling them to develop strategies that will help us conquer cancer once and for all. To stay up to date on the latest in immunotherapy and the progress we’re making, be sure to sign up for our mailing list.
You can read the full CNN.com article here.