APR 18, 2019 07:38 AM PDT

The C-word. Michael Kinch's new book and the future of Cancer Treatment

The C-word. Dare we say it? Is a cure for cancer within reach?

Professor Michael Kinch of Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, thinks it’s time. In his new book, “The End of a Beginning: cancer, immunity and the future of a cure,” Kinch walks us through over a century of medical science to the present advent of cancer immunotherapy. Kinch believes, “it is conceivable cancer will soon be rendered to be a historical footnote for future generations.”

Cancer immunotherapy is a treatment which uses components of the immune system to treat cancer patients. Therapies include antibodies to direct the immune system to target cancerous cells, infusions of activated immune cells, and even vaccines. Monoclonal antibodies can be designed to recognize specific proteins on the surfaces of cancer cells and then recruit immune cells to attack and kill those cancer cells. Yervoy and Keytruda are examples of monoclonal antibodies used for cancer immunotherapy. Activated immune cell infusion, such as CAR T-Cell therapy, involves extracting the patient immune cells, training them to recognize cancer cells and then returning those activated immune cells to the patient. Vaccinations can help prevent cancer caused by viruses. For example, the HPV vaccine has caused cases of cervical cancer in young women to decrease by almost 30%.

Conventional treatments for cancer include surgery to remove solid tumors, radiation therapy to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors, and chemotherapy to target cancer with drugs. Unlike conventional treatments, cancer immunotherapy can train the immune system to specifically target cancer cells and induce memory which results in long-lasting remission.

Kinch's book begins with the discovery of viruses and carries the reader all the way forward to today's monoclonal antibody therapies. Along the way, Kinch introduces the many scientists who contributed to these advancements and the experiments that led to their discoveries. By giving the reader each scientist's motivations behind pursuing research, Kinch makes them more relatable. And by providing clear, simple explanations of key experiments, Kinch enables all to understand them.

Some may find the storytelling in “The End of the Beginning” to be circuitous and superfluous. Indeed, if the reader is looking for a straight forward review of the literature and experiments leading up to the development of cancer immunotherapy, then they should look elsewhere. However, science is rarely a linear endeavor, and thus, not surprisingly, neither is this book.

Michael Kinch, the author of “The End of a Beginning: cancer, immunity and the future of a cure,” attempts to build a case to show we are nearing the end of an era of cancer being an incurable disease. I'm inclined to believe that he is right.

Check out the video to learn more about Cancer Immunotherapy.

Find out more about Michael Kinch's book, "The End of the Beginning: cancer, immunity, and the future of a cure" here.

About the Author
  • I study immunology in the hopes of one day understanding my own hyperactive immune system.
You May Also Like
DEC 15, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 15, 2018
HIV Vaccine Successful in Non-human Primates
Researchers have been trying to create a vaccine for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, for decades....
JAN 15, 2019
Immunology
JAN 15, 2019
A Possible Key to Severe Flu
By studying the impact that NPY and its receptor Y1R have on influenza in mice, the research group has now discovered that NPY produced in lung phagocytes can aggravate influenza....
JAN 15, 2019
Immunology
JAN 15, 2019
Unconventional T Cells
Spondyloarthritis is one of the most common types of chronic joint inflammation affecting nearly 1-2 percent of the Western population. Scientists report that rare populations of unconvention...
MAR 13, 2019
Drug Discovery
MAR 13, 2019
Combination Immunotherapy Stops Liver Cancer Growth
The number of individuals diagnosed with liver cancer is on the rise and current therapies are largely ineffective. However, new preclinical data from the ...
MAR 19, 2019
Health & Medicine
MAR 19, 2019
Can a Low-Carb Diet Treat Osteoarthritis?
A pilot study suggests it might. Researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, found that a low-carbohydrate diet was able to reduce pain intensity...
MAR 25, 2019
Drug Discovery
MAR 25, 2019
Aspirin Combats Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is a global infection far from being eradicated. It currently infects more than 1,400 people per year in Australia. The deadliest form and exp...
Loading Comments...