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Window of Opportunity

Interleukin-2 therapy will achieve a complete response when it is administered d

Interleukin-2 therapy will achieve a complete response when it is administered during a 12-hour window in the 7-day immune cycle.

By Martin Ashdown & Brendon Coventry

By targeting cancer treatments to specific phases of the immune cycle, researchers believe they can dramatically improve the chances of complete remission.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

It is just over 100 years since Charles Mayo, of Mayo Clinic fame, was exchanging letters with William Coley, a New York surgeon who was using “bacterial toxin” vaccines to successfully treat patients with advanced cancer – even causing complete remission of all cancer in 5–10% of patients. These historical letters from the 1890s are truly instructive.

Fast-forward to 2014 and we find that cancer immunotherapy is again topical as a result of occasional promising new responses. But how do we make cancer immunotherapy work for all patients? Are we truly on the precipice of major advancement?

A cancer drug that has been used for more than 20 years and can cure advanced cancer patients is providing new information about how to achieve complete remission from cancer. This drug, interleukin-2, is providing something analogous to how the “Rosetta Stone” unlocked historical script.

In the late 1790s, during the Napoleonic expedition into Egypt, a French soldier found a metre-high stone tablet that enabled Jean-Francois Champollion to decode hieroglyphics, which had remained unfathomable for about 2000 years. The Rosetta Stone had the same information in three different languages: Ancient Greek, Demotic Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Greek components were understood so, by a relatively simple process of comparison and substitution, the meaning, syntax...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.