For decades scientists have been trying to harness the power of our immune system to fight cancer cells. It is not impossible to imagine that our immune system, which is sophisticated enough to fight against a multitude of invaders that threaten our health, should be able to tackle a deadly disease such as cancer. This formed the basis of testing a new type of cancer treatment known as immunotherapy. Immunotherapy for cancer means developing treatments to harness your immune system and using your own immune system to fight the cancerous cells.
But in reality it was hard to make this work. Because, as scientists discovered recently, cancer outsmarts the immune system by wearing a kind of “invisibility cloak”. Cancer is able to fool the immune system from recognizing that it is the enemy and in effect keeps the immune system from destroying it.
In a breakthrough discovery scientists have found a way around this treachery.
The breakthrough is in therapies called ‘checkpoint inhibitors’. Checkpoint inhibitors block the mechanisms that allow some tumor cells to evade the immune system. The drugs ensure that cancer cells are no longer be shielded from the immune system defenses, but are instead recognized as “foreign”. Continue reading “Removing Cancer’s Cloak of Invisibility”