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Great advance in cancer therapy

 

Narrator:       This is Science Today. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, played a key role in developing an innovative new therapy for late-stage melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Called Yervoy, the drug marks the greatest advance in cancer therapy in more than a decade.

Krummel:      The heart of the problem is that tumors are more self than foreign. There was a long time when it was believed that the immune system could never recognize this. And so there's been this paradigm shift in the last 10 or 15 years where we've come to realize that the immune system is capable of seeing this as being different enough that  you can defend against it.

Narrator:       Immunologist Matthew Krummel explains that the drug uses the body's own immune system to defend itself from tumors and could be especially effective when combined with traditional therapies.

Krummel:      What normal chemotherapy does is to cause the tumors to blow up, to die. So, if you can make some of the cells blow up, release their debris into the immune system and then have the immune system also be jacked up, then you have the potential to really double whammy the system.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.