Targeted immunotherapies, a relatively new form of fighting cancer pioneered largely by San Antonio's START Center, have been proven to be effective against a particularly deadly type of cancer, chronic myeloid leukemia, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
.A new study shows the immunotherapy. Gleevec, has been confirmed to be highly successful in adding as much as a decade to the life of a patient with the extremely deadly cancer, and START Center oncologist Dr. Steven Kalter says in some cases, the drug has cured the patient.
He says this is a major development, considering that CML has in the past been thought to be a 'death sentence.'
"Even if you had treatment for the elevated white count, ultimately the disease would transform into acuset leukemia and it would be very difficult to treat, and the patients would die," he said.
83% of CML patients who were treated with Gleevec were still alive ten years later.
Dr. Kalter says this is another indication of the effectiveness of targeted immunotherapies.
"Rather than adding ten years of life to patients with CML, the patient who has success with Gleevec is most likely cured."
The most prominent targeted immunotherapy is Keytruda, which was tested at START. It is credited with curing former President Jimmy Carter of a melanoma which had spread to his liver and his brain. In January, Mr. Carter, 90, became the oldest ex President ever to attend an inauguration.
Gleevec was not tested at START.
Dr. Kalter says targeted immunotherapies, which work on the body's own immune system, training it to recognize the cancer as an intruder and fight it, are the future of cancer treatment, because many don't have the dangerous and uncomfortable side effects of chemotherapy. Dr. Kalter has even suggested that chemo 'may not be around' in another decade.