Baltimore Doctor Warns Of Immunotherapy Side Effects

Immunotherapy has been touted as an excellent treatment alternative for those suffering from especially aggressive cancers such as peritoneal mesothelioma and small cell lung cancer. However, the Associate Director of the Johns-Hopkins Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy warns about the dangers of potential side effects from the novel therapy.

Dr. Suzanne L. Topalian stated that scientists still need to develop a better system of biomarkers to predict the probability of adverse side effects. Dr. Topalian added that there is a need for oncologists to "become more educated on how to use these drugs."

It is believed that immunotherapies have provided added benefits for mesothelioma patients because asbestos also inflames the patient's immune system. Immunotherapy has also shown success when treating rare forms of ovarian cancer as well as some other molecularly complex lung cancers.

The Baltimore examiner wrote that "the results may have to do with a mutated gene in kidney cancer. The gene acted as a sort of master regulator of the other genes, controlling which ones were turned on and when. These regulated genes were normal and produced proteins that were not recognized as abnormal by the immune system."

Presence of the master gene may be the reason that immunotherapy has such variable results depending on the patient. Scientists must work to create a more accurate pinpointing of the biomarkers to increase the predictability of the immune system therapies.

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