I have been researching up a storm on immunotherapies for a current project I am working on and have come across some amazing articles on a scientist whose work I greatly admire, Dr. Glenn Dranoff. His most recent publish, available for free here, discusses the vastly growing trials on immune related treatments for those with advanced cancers. In the simplest way possible, they are trying to schmooze the immune system to target and destroy cancerous cells (sometimes even leukocytes need a little confidence boost!). This would allow the healthy cells to survive unscathed and promote less hazardous side effects. This can be tricky as cancer cells are our own cells, turned on and missing the off switch, and are not easily recognized by immune cells.
Another interesting article lead me to find the man responsible for this connection of immunity and cancer, Dr. William B. Coley. Known best for his “Coley toxins“. He noticed a regression of tumors in patients that had skin infections, aka: the bacteria had jump started the immune system and simultaneously promoted its attack on the cancer cells. Although his methods were very harsh (he injected patients with a streptococcal spp., some of whom died from the infection!) it showed amazing results. And the most amazing part…this took place in the 1890s!