For years, scientists have been probing various immune response proteins in the hopes of finding a new way to target and destroy cancer cells. While not the first drug to use the immune system to fight cancer, it may be the most promising to date. Immune cells recognize this signal and come in to clear away the dead or dying cell.
“This is really opening up a whole new avenue of effective therapies previously not available,” said Dr. Louis M. Weiner, director of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington and a spokesman for the American Association for Cancer Research.
Priced at $12,500 per month or $150,000 per year, the drug is apparently more expensive than other cancer drugs. Patients still run the risk of a potentially harmful inflammatory response-a sign of a runaway immune system, though most tolerated the drug well.
As more drugs come on the market, and new ones are calibrated for different cancers, the next few years could be the beginning of a new era in clinical cancer treatments.