Scientists in Europe have developed a major breakthrough that cures skin cancer, The Daily Mail reported. Scientists combined two drugs which have had “spectacular” effects on people suffering with melanoma, and they believe that the drugs could have similar effects on other types of cancer.
The drugs combined are ipilimumab (IPI) and the newer drug anti-PD1. IPI has cured 17 percent of patients by removing inhibitions from the body’s white blood cells, which are a part of the immune system which fights diseases. By removing these inhibitions, white blood cells are able to attack tumor cells at “full force.”
Anti-PD1s have cured 41 percent of patients in clinical trials. PD means “programmed death” protein. Anti-PD1s control white blood cells, blocking any manipulation made by cancer cells to prevent the immune system from doing its job. PD1s block these manipulative proteins, making cancer cells vulnerable to the white blood cells’ attack.
In Britain, 13,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma each year and kills 2,200 people in that same time. And cases have been quadrupling over the last 30 years. The numbers in the United States are much larger, mainly due to population differences. Over 70,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed in the United States each year, with nearly 10,000 people dying from the disease.
“If I’d made this bizarre prediction five years ago, people would have said I was mad,” said Professor Alexander Eggermont of the Institut Gustave Roussy in France. “But it looks like we are going to have control of advanced melanoma for years, in a substantial proportion of patients.”
The combination of IPI and anti-PD1s will be administered intravenously, stretching four doses over the course of 12 weeks and are already being tested on patients suffering from other types of cancer.
In one lung cancer trial, tumors shrank by one-fourth in patients who were unresponsive to chemotherapy treatments. Those results have prompted tests in patients with prostate, bowel, and breast cancers. If the new drug produces successful results in other patients, then this would be a large step in worldwide cancer research.
“We have always thought that if you can get the immune system to respond to a tumor, then it’s likely to be a long-lasting effect, because the immune system is designed to last for like,” said Professor Peter Johnson, chief clinician at Cancer Research UK. “So it’s very exciting that we are starting to see it working.”