This month’s newsletter is about an interesting case that may be the first step of a major advancement in our approach to treating melanoma.
An Oregon man, given less than a year to live, had a complete remission of advanced deadly skin cancer after receiving an experimental treatment that revved up his immune system to fight the tumors.
The 52-year-old patient’s dramatic turnaround was the only success in a small study, leading doctors to be cautious in their enthusiasm. However, the treatment reported in the June 12, 2008 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine is being counted as the latest in a small series of successes involving immune-priming treatments against deadly skin cancers.
About 20 years ago, some scientists discovered that immune cells could latch onto and attack skin cancers. Since then they have been trying to harness the immune system to fight cancer with experimental tumor vaccines and now with the cloned white blood cells used in this trial.
How did they do it?
The researchers drew blood from patients, located the special helper cells and then grew more of them in the laboratory. They then infused roughly 5 billion of the cells back into the patients – without chemotherapy or other harsh drugs. Immunologic treatments are a more elegant and less toxic approach to melanoma than traditional chemotherapy, which is notoriously ineffective against this deadly cancer.
The fourth patient they treated was the Oregon man, who had a melanoma on his back before it had spread to his groin and right lung. He was treated in July 2005. Two months after the treatment, advanced scans of his body revealed no tumors. Two years after the treatment, he had no symptoms.
More good news: There were no harmful side effects. What’s more, an analysis showed that his immune system had targeted not only one type of protein target on cancer cells, but two others as well.
Unfortunately, none of the eight other patients in the study did as well. It’s not clear why
The Staff and Doctors at Minars Dermatology
In This Issue
How do they do it?
Save $500 on Invisalign
Many of you already know that Dr. Minars’ other son, Michael Minars, is an orthodontist. His office is located just down the street from our office at 4410 Sheridan Street.For the next two months he is offering our patients a discount of $500 off Full Invisalign Treatment. Just call his office for an appointment (954-981-2345) and mention this email for a free consultation and $500 off the treatment. The offer expires October 31, 2008.