Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Miracles & Wonders: Making cancer just go away

Read this incredible story:
The oncologist was blunt: Stefanie Joho’s colon cancer was raging out of control and there was nothing more she could do. Flanked by her parents and sister, the 23-year-old felt something wet on her shoulder. She looked up to see her father weeping. 
“I felt dead inside, utterly demoralized, ready to be done,” Joho remembers. 
But her younger sister couldn’t accept that. When the family got back to Joho’s apartment, Jess opened her laptop and began searching for clinical trials, using medical words she’d heard but not fully understood. An hour later, she came into her sister’s room and showed her what she’d found. 
 That search led to a contact at Johns Hopkins University, and a few days later, Joho got a call from a cancer geneticist co-leading a study there. “Get down here as fast as you can!” Luis Diaz said. “We are having tremendous success with patients like you.”
In August 2014, Joho stumbled into Hopkins for her first infusion of the immunotherapy drug Keytruda. She was in agony from a malignant mass in her midsection, and even with the copious amounts of oxycodone she was swallowing, she needed a new fentanyl patch on her arm every 48 hours. Yet within just days, the excruciating back pain had eased. Then an unfamiliar sensation — hunger — returned. She burst into tears when she realized what it was. 
As months went by, her tumor shrank and ultimately disappeared. She stopped treatment this past August, free from all signs of disease.
The small trial in Baltimore was pivotal, Laurie McGinley writes, and not only for the young marketing professional. It showed that immunotherapy could attack colon and other cancers thought to be unstoppable. The key was their tumors’ genetic defect, known as mismatch repair (MMR) deficiency — akin to a missing spell-check on their DNA. As the DNA copies itself, the abnormality prevents any errors from being fixed. In the cancer cells, that means huge numbers of mutations that are good targets for immunotherapy.

We'll be hearing more stories like this.

No comments:

Post a Comment