The Impact of Immunotherapy

CURE, Immunotherapy Special Issue 2021,

Thanks to ongoing research and clinical trials, it seems that there are always new immunotherapies emerging.

From immune checkpoint inhibitors and T-cell therapies to cancer vaccines, immunotherapy is a strong pillar in the treatment of cancer. And thanks to ongoing research and clinical trials, it seems that there are always new immunotherapies emerging — all with the goal of eliminating or reducing cancer from the body. In this special issue of CURE®, we dive into many of the latest updates on some of these treatments as well as new and upcoming regimens that are making differences in the lives of patients with cancer.

BiTE therapy, for example, is an emerging treatment in this space that wages a two-pronged attack on tumors via bispecific antibodies. For our feature on BiTE therapy, we spoke with a patient who received a diagnosis of high-risk multiple myeloma. After he underwent years of chemotherapy and Venclexta (venetoclax), his cancer returned. It was then that he qualified for a clinical trial of teclistamab, an investigational bispecific antibody drug in the field. His cancer load dropped 99% after one dose.

As new therapies emerge, old ones are also making a comeback, one of which is intralesional therapy. Considered the first immunotherapy, intralesional therapy teaches the immune system to kill cancerous tumors throughout the body. We spoke with one patient with melanoma who found this treatment option through music. His wife, who was a fan of pianist Martha Argerich, knew that the musician had received a diagnosis of stage 4 melanoma that spread to her lungs, and had undergone intralesional therapy at John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California. After reaching out to the same cancer center, the patient was treated with the therapy and now credits it with saving his life. He was even inspired to create a musical composition. Both patient experiences show how big a role immunotherapy can play in treating cancer.

Although immunotherapy can greatly affect patients’ lives, one of the most common worries involves finances. In this issue, we also speak with an expert about tips for how to approach costs of treatments — even if you’ve been denied coverage by your insurance. You’ll also see an article on the side effects of immunotherapy, symptoms to look out for and the steps to take if you start to develop them. Regarding the future of immunotherapy, we’ve also spoken with experts on the newest updates in T cells, cancer vaccines and combination therapies.

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