May 23, 2016
Cancer cells are like terrorists. Under normal circumstances our immune system has state-of-the-art surveilling capabilities and suspect cells are recognized and destroyed. Sometimes the guardians of our immune system are blinded, or the cancer cells blend in with the normal cells and are able to evade detection – thus hijacking our immune system and wreaking havoc.
There has been a paradigm shift in cancer research where it is now recognized that our body’s own immune system can be used to effectively recognize cancer cells, and use its own machinery to get past what’s referred to as “immunological checkpoints” in order to mount a robust immune response. These checkpoints allow our bodies to guard against the threat of autoimmunity, such distinguishing malignant cells as foreign invaders versus “self-cells” that they need to avoid. Tumors express a variety of molecules on the cell surface, which scientists are hoping the immune system, will recognize and attack, once those inhibitory checkpoints are surpassed.. Read more