Good News Tuesday

Here’s something interesting:

Why CAR T-cell immunotherapy is such a big deal for cancer treatment

The treatment is known in the medical community as CAR T-cell therapy. It involves removing some T-cells—a type of white blood cell—from a patient’s blood. Then researchers tweak the outside of each cell in the lab by adding a receptor called CAR (chimeric antigen receptor). When the altered T-cells are infused back into the body, these receptors help them find and kill cancer cells…. CAR T-cell therapy was invented by a group of scientists, including Carl June from the University of Pennsylvania, about a half decade ago. It hit the public eye when doctors used it on a young girl named Emily Whitehead, a then six-year-old with a relapsed and aggressive form of ALL. The experimental treatment worked—Emily is now 12 and cancer-free


Another approach: vaccines. This is a new use of vaccines — I mean, using them on cancer, and AFTER the patient already has developed tumors? But apparently so:

Cancer vaccines help patients get tumor-free in 2 studies

In both studies, researchers used experimental cancer vaccines to treat patients who had the deadly skin cancer melanoma . And in both studies, tumors completely disappeared in more than half of the patients after they were given their cancer vaccines. The other patients were given another type of treatment that was aimed at further boosting the ability of the individuals’ immune systems ‘ ability to fight cancer, and in some of those cases, these patients’ tumors also disappeared.

Researchers are developing similar vaccines against other cancers as well, including a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma, kidney cancer, blood cell cancers and ovarian cancer, said Dr. Catherine Wu, a physician-scientist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who led one of the new studies. “Many other cancers might benefit from this approach,” Wu said.

Onward! We probably all know someone who’s died of melanoma. Plus the current treatment for melanoma tends to cause intolerable depression in some patients, so something completely different would be good. Also, I think glioblastomas are those super-deadly brain cancers, aren’t they? PLUS, I myself am at enhanced risk of ovarian cancer because I’ve never had a baby and that drops you in the higher risk group. Faster, please!

Targeting a different disease:

A Common Epilepsy Drug Can Fix Abnormal Brain Activity in Alzheimer’s Disease

For the first time, researchers have shown that a common epilepsy drug can normalise disrupted brain activity in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The incurable condition already affects one in ten people over the age of 65, so in the widespread scientific search for new therapies this research result is a highly promising development.

Again, faster, please!

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