Happy Friday, with really good news for kids with a form of leukemia. A new press release and an October 16, 2014 article in Fierce Biotech report on a new study of a new treatment that achieved 90% COMPLETE remissions in children with ALL – a vicious form of leukemia. This study is a fine example of how molecular researchers are doing great things as they figure out how to get the immune system to “see” blood and other cancers. That’s a big step because many cancers cells give off a “don’t eat me” signal that in effect causes the immune system to ignore the cancer cells. But once the new treatments gets the immune system to “see” the cancer cells, the immune system often can and will wipe out the cancer cells.
The doctors also are learning how to cope with a side effect. The side effect problem is that massive destruction of the cancer cells causes the cells to release cytokines (proteins involved in signaling). The massive, sudden release of all the cytokines can cause a “cytokine storm” that leads to extreme and potentially fatal fevers as the immune system goes into overdrive. But the doctors also are learning how to head off or treat the storms. Good news all the way around.
It’s a shame our nation invests trillions of dollars in war and homeland security instead of the fundamental research needed to tame awful diseases such as the many diseases we call cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Awful diseases are the real terrorists for tens of millions of Americans.