CRF Blog

Cancer therapy

by David De La Torre

In Checkpoint Charlie, The Economist reports on a new class of anti-cancer drugs.

Instead of attacking cancer directly, immunotherapy recruits a patient’s immune system to do the attacking. The latest way of doing so is by removing the controls which keep the immune system in check during times of bodily peace, lest it damage the person it is supposed to be protecting. Such “checkpoint-inhibitor” immunotherapy has proved itself over the past three years in the treatment of advanced melanoma, hitherto a death sentence. Now, as a series of papers presented this week to the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, in Chicago, shows, its range is being extended. More effective versions are being brought to bear on melanoma. And the whole approach is being tried out — often successfully — on lots of other cancers, including those of the lungs, the kidneys, the bladder, the colon, the stomach, the head and the neck. [more]