In the article “Cancer’s Off Switch,” by Jedd D. Wolchok, the author explained the effectiveness of immunotherapy over the conventional chemotherapy. He studied a case of a woman with brain cancer who has undergone the chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but the tumors continued to spread. The woman was introduced to a new medicine that was developed to boost the immune system to fight cancer; her improved health in this innovative immunotherapy treatment validates the efficacy of the treatment. He concluded that this immune-boosting method of therapy has significantly caused cancer to disappear through various ways. First, he explained the multilayered defenses that the cell used to create protective system could fight pathogens during an infection. These affect a cancer tumor. These multi layered defenses in which the blood cells coordinate some general responses against bacteria and viruses thereby generate molecular fragments called antigens which the immune system perceives as foreign which; as a result, allowing the immune system to precisely target and destroy bacteria and cells that have these antigens. He further added that the experimental drug that was used in the case of the woman as mentioned earlier was derived from research on a protein called CTLA-4 which is present in the majority of the T cells. These cells react when they recognize their target with other proteins which serve as series of molecular checkpoints that prevent the immune system to be destroyed. The CTLA-4 blocking antibody and an experimental vaccine resulted in regression of some types of tumors in laboratory animals; hence the process tested in human proves some positive results in some patients. He concluded that more than a half of patients treated with this method resulted in reducing the size of the tumor. Therefore, he believes immunotherapy will be the future preference for cancer treatment.

Wolchok, J. D. (2014). Cancer’s Off Switch. Scientific American, 310(5), 40-45.

Note: Submitted by a student

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