April 10, 2015 |
When researchers talk about the new, mostly experimental form of cancer treatment known as immunotherapy, they often use glowing terms like revolutionary and transformative. Last week's PBS documentary Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies was another example of this. The third and final episode told how many scientists believe that the body's innate defense system is the only weapon adaptable enough to conquer the mutating malignant cells. But harnessing the immune system to launch a self-attack can be highly toxic, even deadly.
March 30, 2015 |
The sweeping chronicle of cancer that premieres this week on PBS has strong Philadelphia connections. Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies is famed documentarian Ken Burns' three-part, six-hour film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling book. On Wednesday, the third and final episode prominently features a breakthrough immunotherapy being developed at the University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in partnership with pharmaceutical giant Novartis.
November 29, 2014 |
On Nov. 9, Jim Warrenfeltz ran the OBX Marathon. He's a fast guy and scored a new personal record that day by a few minutes, running the race in two hours, 54 minutes and 30 seconds. His post-running bliss was short lived, though. "You never feel good after a marathon," said Warrenfeltz, 33, of Emmaus, Pa. That not feeling good turned out to be something worse than just sore legs. On the Tuesday after, he started to feel bad. By Wednesday, he'd developed a cough and general felt of "crud.
June 2, 2014 |
Physicians have known for years that vaccines do not work as well in people who are suffering from a chronic infection such as malaria. Likewise, people with one kind of chronic infection tend to be more vulnerable to a second one. A new study led by University of Pennsylvania researchers fingers a key culprit in these breakdowns of the immune system: chronic inflammation. The research, published last month in the journal Immunity, reveals how long-term inflammation from one infection impairs the ability of infection-fighting T cells to form memories of any additional invaders - thereby hampering the immune system's ability to recognize and attack those invaders on future occasions.
March 24, 2014 |
For 17 years, Scarlett Glueck suffered for love. Her sinuses felt like they were packed with fiberglass, she had trouble breathing, her eyes watered, and rashes regularly bloomed on her skin. The 55-year-old homemaker from Horsham never suspected that her cat, Furball, was the source of all this misery. Not that it would have made a difference. "I loved him," Glueck said. "He was a member of our family. " Allergists have a joke about cat owners, said Robert Anolik, an asthma and allergy specialist in Blue Bell.
August 5, 2013 |
When Janelle Robinson used a hair-removal kit from the Home Shopping Network, all she wanted to remove from her birthmark was hair. Three months later, she learned there was something else to remove: melanoma. It spread throughout her left leg, even after four surgeries. Then in March, Robinson joined a clinical trial for the drug lambrolizumab; since then, her tumors have nearly disappeared. "Words can't even express what I felt," Robinson said. "I knew my blessing was coming.
April 21, 2013 |
The seventh child to receive an experimental leukemia therapy at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia got good news last week: It worked. "Avrey Walker is cancer free!!!! A total remission!" her father, Aaron, exulted on their Facebook page. The 9-year-old from Redmond, Ore., was diagnosed at age 4 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a blood cancer that can be deadly within a few months if not treated. Like other children in the study at Children's, Avrey had undergone years of intermittent chemotherapy, only to relapse each time the toxic treatments ended.
April 2, 2013 |
University of Pennsylvania researcher Carl H. June has been selected to receive the 2012 Philadelphia Award for "his extraordinary advancements in gene therapy aimed at treating HIV and cancer. " June and his team recentlyreported that of the first 12 patients treated with the experimental therapy, nine - including two children - had complete or partial remissions from advanced, intractable leukemia. Two adults remain cancer-free two and a half years after treatment. The annual award, which carries a $25,000 honorarium, was created by Ladies Home Journal Editor Edward Bok in 1921 to honor a local person whose work advanced "the best and largest interest" of the greater Philadelphia community.
February 23, 2013 |
One of the hot trends in cancer medicine is using tiny particles to deliver drugs directly to a tumor, rather than bombarding the whole body with chemotherapy. But the immune system treats these nanoparticles as foreign invaders, so it tries to clear them before they can do their job. The solution, says a team of University of Pennsylvania researchers, is to make the foreign particles seem like natives. The group reported Thursday it had done just that in lab mice, attaching customized protein fragments to the particles that tricked the animals' immune-system "border guards" into relaxing their vigilance.
February 22, 2013 |
One of the hot topics in cancer medicine is using tiny particles to deliver drugs directly to a tumor, rather than bombarding the whole body with chemotherapy. But the immune system treats these nanoparticles as foreign invaders, so it tries to clear them before they do their job. The solution, says a team of University of Pennsylvania researchers, is to make the foreign particles seem like natives. The group reported Thursday they had done just that in lab mice, attaching customized protein fragments to the particles that tricked the animals' immune-system "border guards" into relaxing their vigilance.