Jun 26 2016

Scientist focuses on immune system, for cancer treatment

Published by at 11:57 am under probiotic supplements

Scientist focuses on immune system, not tumor, for cancer treatment.1*
Find out how Immunologist Jim Allison, Ph.D. “tweaked” T cells to find successful cancer treatment.1*


At Body Biotics™, we are constantly focused on the importance of building a strong immune system. With 80% of our immune systems originating in the gut, our work is dedicated to educating our customers on this key element to good health and providing you with a product that builds the microbiome to be healthy and thriving. With a healthy balance of friendly bacteria, (80% friendly to 20% unfriendly) we know that we can better fight off  pathogens that come our way. That is why the work of  Jim Allison, Ph.D., is so interesting and exciting. His research and discovery for treating melanoma, focuses on the immune system to fight off cancer.  1*

Immunologist and Chair of Immunology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Jim Allison, Ph.D., invented a revolutionary approach for  treating melanoma. So important was his discovery, that he was recognized with the nation’s highest honor for clinical medical research, being named the 2015 winner of the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.  The Lasker awards recognize major achievements around the globe in the areas of basic science, clinical research and public service.1*

Allison’s long search for a new kind of treatment — one that has since become a lifesaver for some cancer patients — began when Allison was running a lab at the University of California, Berkeley back in the early 1990s. He was fascinated by the subset of white blood cells called T cells, which are powerful cells of the immune system. These cells travel around the body and can “protect us against just about anything,” according to Allison. His revolutionary treatment for melanoma was centered on his research, which determined that if the immune system was “tweaked just right”, it could fight off cancer better than the usual treatments.1*

T cells don’t recognize cancer cells in a way that eliminates the disease, but they do recognize them. Allison, who had been studying T cells for years, found that by “…tinkering with one key molecule on the outside of these cells, he could enhance their response to cancer, enough to eradicate the illness…”1 (To read more about T-Cells, go to Reference 3.)(1,2,3)*

Along with one of his grad students, Allison ran an experiment testing these “tweaked” T cells on cancerous tumors in mice, with astounding results. The T cells seemed to shrink the tumors and kill the cancer. He repeated the experiment with the same results. The next step was to try it on humans. Thinking drug companies would jump at the chance to create a human version of the treatment, he was surprised to find the biotech companies were not interested, as their focus was fixed on targeting tumors directly and Allison’s treatment was targeting the immune system…not the tumor. “…”We weren’t trying to kill the cancer cells. We were letting the T cells kill the cancer cells.”…”1*

“It’s a new modality for treating cancer,” Dr. Samuel Broder, a former director of the National Cancer Institute, says now of Allison’s pioneering research. “It used to be there were three basic treatment options for cancer — surgery, radiation and chemotherapy — or some combination of those three. It’s fair to say there’s now a fourth option.” (1,2)*

The biotech company Medarex eventually developed technology that could replicate Allison’s therapy in a version for humans. It took ten years for Allison’s idea to be ready to test on people. It was done in a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The drug, now called ipilimumab, or Ippy for short  is now sold under the brand name Yervoy by Bristo-Myers Squibb, which bought Medarex in 2009.(1,2)*

Allison warns that “…each case is different, and using a patient’s own cells to destroy tumors won’t work in every patient or in every type of cancer…” Nevertheless, the approach offers promise to some people that other therapies can’t, and has transformed the way doctors think about cancer treatment.1*

“…”It might be too early to say we’re going to cure cancer,” Allison says, “but we’re going to cure certain types of cancers. We’ve got a shot at it now.”…”1*

According to www.cancer.gov, “…Blocking the activity of immune checkpoint proteins releases the “brakes” on the immune system, increasing its ability to destroy cancer cells. Several immune checkpoint inhibitors have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The first such drug to receive approval, ipilimumab (Yervoy®), for the treatment of advanced melanoma, blocks the activity of a checkpoint protein known as CTLA4, which is expressed on the surface of activated immune cells called cytotoxic T lymphocytes. CTLA4 acts as a “switch” to inactivate these T cells, thereby reducing the strength of immune responses; ipilimumab binds to CTLA4 and prevents it from sending its inhibitory signal…”4*

This is a topic that we will continue to follow. Harnessing the immune system to better fight off diseases naturally, will most certainly be a constant focus for scientists in the future. Continue to keep your immune system strong by keeping your microbiome in balance with BODY BIOTICSâ„¢ Bio Identical SBO Probiotics Consortiaâ„¢ and let your body do its job to naturally fight off disease and pathogens. *

Until next week, healthiest wishes,






  1. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/06/09/480435066/a-scientists-dream-fulfilled-harnessing-the-immune-system-to-fight-cancer
  2. https://www.mdanderson.org/newsroom/2015/09/md-anderson-immunologist-jim-allison-wins-lasker-debakey-award.html
  3. https://www.verywell.com/t-cells-2252171
  4. http://www.cancer.gov/research/areas/treatment/immunotherapy-using-immune-system

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