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Potential cancer cure

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Some good news out of San Diego this week - researchers at UCSD are beginning human trials of a new type of cancer cure. It is very close to a cancer "vaccine" although it's not a way to prevent cancer - it's a way to fight existing cancers.

Humans have a very competent immune system which is capable of fighting off most diseases, and in fact a lot of disease treatment nowadays is palliative to make the patient more comfortable/stronger while their immune system does the heavy lifting of fighting off the virus.

Our immune systems can often fight some kinds of cancers, as well. T-cells can directly attack cancer cells and kill them. When cancer cells die, other cells called antigen-presenting cells detect the antigens within the dead cancer cell and "present" those antigens to the T-cells. The T-cell then prowls the body looking for cells showing those antigens and attacking them.

However, our immune system has a very big problem when it comes to cancer - cancer cells are our own cells, just ones that divide too quickly. It can be very hard for our immune system to tell our cells from cancer cells. If the system is too selective, it misses the cancer cells altogether - and the tumor continues growing. If the system isn't selective enough, it attacks our normal cells and we die from an autoimmune response.

This new "vaccine" identifies neoantigens, which are new antigens that cancer cells present that other cells do not. So the first step is to get a sample of the tumor via biopsy, and use an algorithm developed by UCSD to reject all the antigens that are present in the patient's normal cells, then amplify the neoantigens that are unique to the cancer. Then they generate proteins that make them "look like" those dead pieces of cancer cells that the APC's use. The APC's show them to the T-cells, the T-cells go out looking for those specific cancer cells - and the body begins fighting the tumor with its own immune systems.

So in a way, the "vaccine" is a method of telling our immune systems exactly what to go after. It's a way of amplifying the systems already present in our bodies to fight cancer.

Needless to say this would be a huge advance in the treatment of cancer, although it is way too early to say how often it will work, which sorts of cancer it will work on or what problems it has. But it's encouraging in that this is a very generic approach - it does not rely on specific traits or characteristics unique to a certain subset of cancer. So it potentially could be applicable to a wide variety of cancers.

https://www.10news.com/news/la-jolla-researchers-test-new-way-to-treat-cure-cancer

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Wow. Thanks for posting this.
Is it awful of me to hope it doesn’t become too proprietary?

Wendy P.
There is nothing more dangerous than breaking a basic safety rule and getting away with it. It removes fear of the consequences and builds false confidence. (tbrown)

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wow that is great break through. I like the idea of a "vaccine" using our own immune system to fight off the cancer cells.

Some of the treatments we have now are almost as hard on our bodies as the cancer itself
You can't be drunk all day if you don't start early!

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Rick

wow that is great break through. I like the idea of a "vaccine" using our own immune system to fight off the cancer cells.

Some of the treatments we have now are almost as hard on our bodies as the cancer itself



Certainly would be a lot better than chemotherapy or radiation treatments if those two can be avoided.
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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I read a year or more ago about researchers working on solving 'ALL' cancer problems the same way AIDS invades and attacks the immune system, "all we got to do is piggy-back a genetically altered t-cell, introduce it to the body and voilà! we just cured Leukemia." They actually have done that, though the solution only created more questions. CAR-T cells (Adoptive T-cell), is some interesting reading.

Only reason I was reading about it is someone I knew might have benefited. Nice to see the research continues. One example, a company in San Diego was awarded a grant.

Poseida: Awarded $3.99 Million CIRM Grant to Support Preclinical Development of P-PSMA-101, a T Stem Cell Memory CAR-T Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Lots of protesting about using stem cells for research considering where the harvest occurs. I'm not referring to somatic stem cells, they exist throughout the body.


Edit for spelling and clarification.

"exit fast, fly smooth, dock soft and smile"
'nother james

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Fantastic, but if this were to ever actually become a cure to cancer, you likely wont ever be able to afford it. There are lots of ground breaking treatment options out there, but for all practical purposes they mind as well not even exist because they are hugely unaffordable to the bottom 99%, and insurance sure as hell wont cover the tab. HIV is so treatable now that for all practice purposes you could pick it up when you're 30 and die at 80 from a heart attack. But the drugs also cost upwards for $400,000 for a lifetime of treatment and many insurance plans dont cover it. You find that out when your so-called 'good' health insurance plan that offers 'full coverage' in fact offers zero coverage for it.

It's stuff like this that makes me cringe when I hear people skydive (even full time) with no health insurance. Most people dont seem to realize how little it takes to end up with a bill so extensive you couldent pay for it in two lifetimes. Even with insurance, even so called 'good' insurance, there are no shortage of millions upon millions - even hundreds of millions - who have ended up with medical debt exceeding the cost of a fairly nice 4-bedroom house.

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Westerly

Fantastic, but if this were to ever actually become a cure to cancer, you likely wont ever be able to afford it.



At that point you move to Canada, or France, or the UK, or anywhere that doesn't have such a god-awful healthcare system.

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yoink

***Fantastic, but if this were to ever actually become a cure to cancer, you likely wont ever be able to afford it.



At that point you move to Canada, or France, or the UK, or anywhere that doesn't have such a god-awful healthcare system.

Well, the US has the best health care in the world.

Some of the worst pricing systems and insurance, but look at how many (wealthy) people from around the world come to the US for treatment.

And as far as this sort of treatment (immunotherapy) goes, it actually looks to be cheaper in the long run.

My understanding (and I certainly could be wrong on it) is that the patient's immune system is 'boosted', either by removing, altering and reinstalling cells from the patient's own immune system or by adding synthetic immune system cells.
Once this is done, the patient's own body does the rest.

No need for multiple chemo treatments, or radiation treatments or surgeries.

The basic idea isn't new, but some of the recent advances hold a lot of promise.
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

"~ya don't GET old by being weak & stupid!" - Airtwardo

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obelixtim

My first mobile phone back in 1988 cost more than $1000, and people wouldn't call it because it cost 10c per minute or some such.

Now you can by a cheap throwaway phone for 10 bucks....

You're talking about a completely different, unrelated industry. There are tons of drugs that have been out for as long as 70+ years and not only have they not gone down in price, some have increased in price by more than 200 fold. It's simple. When you need it to save your life, you can bet the manufacturer is going to charge an absolutely astronomical price for it. No one needs an old phone to save their life.

https://www.drugs.com/slideshow/old-drugs-new-pricetag-1206

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>There are tons of drugs that have been out for as long as 70+ years and not only have
>they not gone down in price, some have increased in price by more than 200 fold.

Most drugs drop in price massively once they come off patent (20 years) because then other companies can compete and make them for cheaper. Some drugs remain hideously expensive because only a very small number of people need them (i.e. hundreds) and there's no way to make anything for that small a market cheaply.

But cancer? If they can even cure 10% of cancers in the US, the numbers will be in the hundreds of thousands.

>When you need it to save your life, you can bet the manufacturer is going to charge an
>absolutely astronomical price for it.

Yep. And if it's a common, off-patent drug, then manufacturer 2 will charge astronomical -$1. Mfr 3 will charge astronomical -$2. And mfr 1 will say "Hey! Sales! Why are we losing our market share to these other guys?" And mfr 1 will drop his price as well.

And that will continue until they are barely making money on it.

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wmw999

Wow. Thanks for posting this.
Is it awful of me to hope it doesn’t become too proprietary?

Wendy P.



Is it awful that my girlfriend is in school for radiation oncology and my first thought was, "Well, she's out of a job now..."?
"I encourage all awesome dangerous behavior." - Jeffro Fincher

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DJL

***Wow. Thanks for posting this.
Is it awful of me to hope it doesn’t become too proprietary?

Wendy P.



Is it awful that my girlfriend is in school for radiation oncology and my first thought was, "Well, she's out of a job now..."?

Having just lost my dad to cancer in May of this year, yes I hope this puts her out of a job. But it will be a while before that happens.

And nothing personal I don't even know her.
Handguns are only used to fight your way to a good rifle

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Without reading the article and without verifying credability:

The main problem with this treatment is that the response must be tailored
to each individual patient and each individual primary tumour separately.

That means not only prohibitive costs in reagents, lab space and labour, but also a lot of calendar time before a single treatment is ready. Time the patient may very well not have.

Still, it will be interesting to see how this treatment will be improved upon - maybe a valid treatment can result from this in the space of several decades..
"That formation-stuff in freefall is just fun and games but with an open parachute it's starting to sound like, you know, an extreme sport."
~mom

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BartsDaddy

******Wow. Thanks for posting this.
Is it awful of me to hope it doesn’t become too proprietary?

Wendy P.



Is it awful that my girlfriend is in school for radiation oncology and my first thought was, "Well, she's out of a job now..."?

Having just lost my dad to cancer in May of this year, yes I hope this puts her out of a job. But it will be a while before that happens.

And nothing personal I don't even know her.

Oh yes, she would be very happy to be out of a job. She has no illusion that she'll spend most of her time only slowing down someone's death.
"I encourage all awesome dangerous behavior." - Jeffro Fincher

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Quote

The main problem with this treatment is that the response must be tailored to each individual patient and each individual primary tumour separately.



Yes, and that is both its strength and its weakness.

Its specificity is a good thing for people who are already weakened from cancer. Unlike treatments like chemotherapy this doesn't target dividing cells - it targets only the cells from the tumor. So you don't get as many systemic effects from the treatment.

Also, unlike other treatments that rely on stimulating an immune response, the odds of autoimmune disease as a result are lower, since you are specifying which antigens you want targeted.

The downside of all that is that it takes longer, as you point out. Still, if it works at all, the demand will be so large that methods to speed up (and later reduce cost) will come fairly quickly.

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