The dawning of a new Era of cancer immunotherapy

Immune therapy in the fight against malignant tumors, Doctors rely on a powerful ally: the immune system of the sick. The results are partly revolutionary. But what distinguishes it from other cancer treatments?

Cancer doctors are from experience reserved. Your opponent has taught them to make sober predictions about the wild hopes. But recently, many experts place the reserve. With superlatives such as "Revolution in the Krebstherapie" or "gigantic Fortschritt" describe the professionals success the treatment they experience in their clinics and doctor’s offices.

Actually breaks down a new era in the battle against the disease, almost every second German suffering in the course of his life? In a year, a quarter of a million Federal citizens die? Why the euphoria is entitled to and what you should know patients now, reveals the renowned Oncologist, Prof. Diana Lüftner, a senior physician at the clinic for Hematology, Oncology and tumor immunology at the Berlin Charité University clinic.

FOCUS Online: Why are cancer doctors currently, as optimistic as ever before?

Diana Lüftner: Because our "Werkzeugkasten" of therapies we can offer patients, and in recent times has enormously increased. In almost every Form of cancer we are experiencing a minor or major breakthrough that can extend life. And what is more important: Our new drugs do it is almost always to maintain the quality of life of affected patients. Many go on to work.

FOCUS Online: What is the most important tool in your tool box?

Diana Lüftner: The Immune Therapy. This treatment is in the best case, tumors as well as metastases within a few months melt away, as if they had never been there. For the first Time, we, the Doctors, saw the 2010 in studies in patients with metastatic skin cancer, a very aggressive disease…

FOCUS Online: …in the advanced stage, the Affected is often only a few months life time treat.

Diana Lüftner: And suddenly there survived almost every fifth Patient with the disease for many years. Thanks to the drug purchase, an antibody for the treatment of advanced melanoma. Such a success seemed unimaginable until then.

FOCUS Online: How is it possible for this revolutionary therapy, the cancer to womb-to-back?

Diana Lüftner: The medicines as an Infusion to be given, to enable the body’s own immune system that cancer cells recognizes and fights. The drugs are not effective against the Tumor directly, but to turn off a Blockade, with which the tumor cells trick the Empire manage to fight back against the immune system. Thanks to the new antibodies the body can recognize the foreign cancer protein now on and off. This is a real Revolution.

FOCUS Online: what’s the name of this anti-body?

Diana Lüftner: Of professionals will be with you as Checkpoint inhibitors or PD-1 inhibitors. PD stands for "Programmed Cell Death", English: the programmed cell death.

FOCUS Online: what is side effects?

Diana Lüftner: In the rule caused the treatment little subjective side effects. Only three to five percent of the patients of the therapy because of intolerance should you need to cancel. Moreover, it is suitable even for people who are not eligible for conventional treatment methods such as chemotherapy are eligible, because they are weakened or unfavorable comorbidities bring.

FOCUS Online: The immune therapy helps but not every patient?

Diana Lüftner: no, it’s talk, not all of the patients on the treatment. We take again the black skin cancer as an example: At 40 to 45 percent of the patients, the tumors are shrinking. This is achieved in particular by the combination of different immunotherapies. About 15 percent of patients, all of the metastases disappear even.

FOCUS Online: what is the major cancer such as breast cancer or colon cancer?

Diana Lüftner: Here to help the new drugs-not yet.

FOCUS Online: Is this not a weak point of the immune therapy?

Diana Lüftner: No. Because this is a disease we can treat for quite some time – with great effort and side effects. Where we use today, the immune therapy, because we were Doctors earlier, almost always with empty hands.

FOCUS Online: What diseases are these?

Diana Lüftner: The black skin cancer, non-small-cell lung cancer, renal cancer, or Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a malignant disease of the lymphatic system. All very difficult-to-treat forms of cancer. And there are still more diseases to come. Worldwide, about 200 studies on this subject. Thanks to the immune therapy, we can bring patients in so-called Long-term remissions. This means that the cancer is not cured but he is a chronic disease, with the help of the Affected, thanks to their drugs to live the good life. This is roughly similar to that of an advanced Diabetes.

FOCUS Online: Why helps the immune therapy actually, not all types of cancer?

Diana Lüftner: The antibody-activated immune cells sense that not all tumors are equally good. For the individual cancers are much different. It can be not essentially a drug that acts on all types of cancer.

FOCUS Online: How is that to understand?

Diana Lüftner: Let me explained as follows. Cancer doctors used to think: There is a tumor cell, which divides and two identical daughter cells, which are divided again to two identical cells, and so on…A mistake, as we know today. Cancer cells are incapable of change. A tumor cell can produce a daughter cell with different biological properties. And the next daughter cell can have a different appearance. At the end of the Tumor is composed of a hodgepodge of cells, the more genetic differences than similarities. This is one reason why our therapies don’t work sometimes. You need several different approaches to get really all the cells.

FOCUS Online: so You have a variety of therapy approaches combine?

Diana Lüftner: Yes, this is the future. New combined immunotherapies are being tested in different studies. At our clinic, we are a step further. We now combine conventional. Chemo therapies with modern immune therapies. This is a great mechanism that shows disproportionately good effects, in particular in non-small cell lung cancer. Up to 80 percent of patients can benefit from these therapies in a sustainable way.

FOCUS Online: what about breast cancer? Provides the immune therapy of hope for patients?

Diana Lüftner: breast cancer unfortunately speaks to the new immune therapy hardly. The reason is that This cancer has just a few of the so-called Neo-antigens. These atypical, new proteins arise in the more aggressive cancer cells. In healthy cells this does not happen. Therefore, these Protein variants Prime targets for the immune cells. Unfortunately, not every Tumor is not producing a lot of Neo-antigens. In the case of breast cancer, a relatively rare does exist in the form that we treatment with sufficient success to use the immune.

FOCUS Online: What is it?

Diana Lüftner: The so-called triple-negative breast cancer. Patients with this breast cancer account for about 15 percent of all breast cancer cases. Her Tumor is very aggressive, is especially true of women under 50 years of age and does not respond to the targeted therapies, which can help other breast cancer very well.

FOCUS Online: And this of cancer, helps the immune therapy?

Diana Lüftner: This triple-negative breast cancer is the one we by immune therapy most likely to be caught, albeit with a lesser success than the development of skin cancer. There are among the triple-negative breast cancer is also what is driven by testosterone. We treat with hormone blockers, so such as the prostate cancer in men.

FOCUS Online: what are the prospects for Treatment in General, in the case of breast cancer?

Diana Lüftner: The chances of a cure amount at initial diagnosis, approximately 80 per cent. This is really very good. One reason for this is that we detect cancer earlier and earlier. On the other hand, we have learned that many treatments such as SURGERY, radiation, Chemound hormone therapy more closely coordinated. The at the same time reduces the side effects. And we will be in the next years even better!