Monday, March 10, 2008

March 10, 2008 - Worth the Wait?

As frustrating as it can be to pursue a watch-and-wait cancer treatment strategy, one bright side is that the longer I wait, the more likely it is that new treatments will become available. One promising area of research is that of therapeutic cancer vaccines. A recent posting on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society website highlights some of the new medicines currently in development.

Cancer vaccines, as I’ve said in earlier postings, are different from preventative vaccines. They don’t involve dosing people with a mild case of cancer in order to prevent future, more severe cases (as is the case with, say, childhood vaccines for measles or polio). What they do, instead, is train the body’s immune system to more effectively fight off a cancer that’s already present.

That means they’re kind of like a boxing coach. They don’t do the fighting themselves, but rather train and encourage the fighters – the patient’s own white blood cells – to get back in there and slug it out.

As the article puts it, these new vaccines “can also be ‘gene therapies,’ that is they can involve the introduction of genetic material (RNA or DNA) into cells before they are given back to a cancer patient. The field of gene therapy was born more than thirty years ago with new approaches to treating human disease by either replacing damaged or missing genes with normal ones, or by providing new genes as in these new cancer vaccine strategies.... These and other gene therapies may someday make cancer a manageable disease and even provide cures.”

Now, that would be something worth waiting for!

2 comments:

Darian Burns said...

Your journey is such an example of authenticity and faith. Just this week I worte a post on a time in my life when I needed an extra measure of God's mercy. If it is a blessing let me know. Here is the link:
http://anuncommongrace.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/gods-mercy-micahs-touch/

Carlos ("Carl") said...

Thanks, Darian. Your blog contains some beautiful posts. Thanks for sharing the link.