These two drugs “paint” the target tumors, allowing the immune system to recognize them as threats and annihilate them. They prevent white blood cells, the “hunter killers” of the immune system, from switching “off” when it comes to recognizing cancerous cells, which are essentially malfunctioning cells within the body that are replicating uncontrollably.
Unfortunately, the drug combination is quite an aggressive form of treatment, and in some cases it makes the immune system attack healthy tissue, too, so powerful side effects are expected in some patients.
Those receiving the drugs, paid for in their entirety by the NHS, will have to be carefully monitored, but it’s likely that they will be readily recommended as a form of treatment to those with melanoma. After all, these side effects are likely to be considered a small price to pay for a significant life extension.
Treating cancer is as complex, and there's much about it that we are yet to even begin to understand. Fotosr52/Shutterstock
Cancer is complex. There are over 200 types, and each responds very differently to different types of treatments. Often, the most remarkable trials pop up in the news – algal backpacks are shown to destroy cancerous cells, or leukemia cells are induced to turn on and kill each other – but the actual treatments tend to be a decade or two down the line.
This particular treatment experienced a quick turnaround, which will prolong the lives of thousands. It’s a welcome break from the norm.