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The area of immune-oncology, which has taken the field of cancer research and cancer treatment by storm over the last few years, is not new.
The image above is of Paul Ehrlich, a German physician and scientist who worked in the fields of hematology, immunology, and antimicrobial chemotherapy, between 1870 and 1910. Around 1900, he had suggested that the body should have the ability to recognize cancer as being different from normal cells, and thereby limit the development of cancer in human beings. Moreover, in an analogy to vaccination, he attempted to generate immunity to cancer by injecting weakened cancer cells, and suggested that we may be able to use the immune system to fight cancer, to treat cancer, and potentially prevent cancer.
In 1908, Ehrlich was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology of Medicine for providing a theoretical basis for immunology.
Ehrlich's were a prophetic series of statements and in essence, he was right . . . but it took a long time for his predictions about the use of the immune system in the treatment and control of cancer to reach fruition. Through a long process of basic science & clinical development in academia and industry and government labs, we now have the tools to use the immune system very effectively to treat some cancers.
In 2013, Science Magazine described Cancer Immunotherapy as the Breakthrough of the Year. This was based on the recent science that has taught us how cancers avoid detection by the immune system, and grow, despite the presence of immune cells to fight cancer cells-- and how we might be able to stimulate those immune cells to fight back.
In 2016, the American Society for Clinical Oncology named cancer immunotherapy the "Clinical Advance of the Year", based on the kinds of clinical experiences that are being seen today, using the immune system to fight cancer more effectively.
Below we share some of our favorite stories detailing these experiences, and we hope to add many more to come.