Startup Reduces Needles for Blood Draws

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FDA approved to improve patient and practitioner experience in healthcare settings.

Full Story:  http://fortune.com/2016/05/20/startup-blood-draws/

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Or visit:  http://velanovascular.com/in-the-news/velano-vascular-needleless-blood-draw-technology-relieves-anxiety-for-patients-practitioners-and-hospitals/

 

Humor Helps Cancer Patients Heal

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When 28-year-old Oncology Nurse, Lexi Timmons works with cancer patients, which she’s done for two years, she notices what helps most is humor to brighten their spirits.

She also observes they receive a lot of greeting cards from well-meaning loved ones, but most are downright depressing instead of what they need most during this time, which is cheer.  She realizes it’s not their fault  because the majority of Greeting cards for illness in major retailers are typically glum offering sympathy, along with a Get Well Soon salutation.  She could see her patients get sad as they open and read them.

That’s how Lexi got the idea to create a line of Greeting cards that make cancer patients smile, laugh and feel good.  She calls them LUMPY CARDS.   Everyone knows stress has a negative impact on your mind and body. When people have cancer, they need their immune systems to stay strong and humor helps diffuse stress.  When someone is laughing they’re not thinking of being sick, even if it’s only for a little while.  It’s a step in the right direction.  Laughter is always positive, which is why we love Lexi’s idea and spirit. Sometimes, her patients inspire the cards.

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Lexi says, “I love to crack jokes and so do my patients. I realized that when people are going through the roughest of times, it actually brings out the best comedian in them.  It helps them cope and it also releases feel good endorphins in them, which are healing.”

Another inspiration was unexpected.  In 2012, cancer hit home when her Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

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Lexi Timmons with a cancer patient she didn’t expect – her own Mom

“My Mom is at her best when she is laughing and not thinking about her cancer. I knew this would help her too.”

LUMPY CARDS sure did make her Mom smile.

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Now, Lexi’s Mom inspires some of the Greeting cards. Together, they share great laughs and beautiful smiles.

Laughter really is the best medicine

 Her Mom Sherry says, “I just love Lexi’s cards! She has a knack for finding just the right line to make people feel better. When I was going through cancer treatment, and I would read one of her cards, they would make me laugh or feel loved. Her cards captured what I needed to hear at each stage of my treatment, and were neither too sympathetic or mushy. So many of the cards out there make you feel like your life is over now that you have cancer or you’re dying.”

Lexi writes the humorous cards herself, but would love to partner with some professional comedians, who would like to volunteer for a good cause and get credit on them.

There are a range of cards uniquely tailored for men, women, friends, family and spouses dealing with cancer and they’re reasonably priced at $3.99 a card.

Healthy Within Network and NewsMD give these cards two healthy thumbs up. 

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And so does the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, who has this to say:

“Now THIS is interesting!  A company that makes unique and provocative greeting cards for cancer patients. Lumpy Cards certainly doesn’t tiptoe around the topic of cancer.  The animal selection is particularly cute.”

 

 Way to go, Lexi.  An absolutely beautiful person inside and out, like her Mom.

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Lexi with her biggest fan, Mom

 

 

Here’s a link to Lexi on-camera talking about her inspiration for Lumpy Cards:

 

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  You can contact Lexi for an interview (Contact Us page on link) or order cards here:  http://www.lumpycards.com

Maria Dorfner is an  award-winning health journalist, and the the founding CEO of Healthy Within Network and NewsMD Communications.  This is her blog. She has been working in Media since 1983 and began specializing in Health in 1993, creating and sharing original and trusted health content for healthcare consumers. Her award-winning health series and segments have been seen on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, DISCOVERY HEALTH and more.

“Today, the floodgates are open to anyone reporting on health. Consumers are now well aware that physicians may have ties to pharmaceutical companies, health devices or hospitals, so they question everything. They are also now aware that food and beverage companies promoting products may not have their best interests in mind. When your Mom, Dad, sister, brother or loved one has a health issue, you want to know you’re getting trusted unbiased information. We maintain the experts need to be questioned to ensure not only transparency, but that profits aren’t placed before people.  Additionally, we focus on prevention and maintaining good health.  Virgil said it best when he said, “Health is your greatest wealth. Invest wisely.” ~Maria Dorfner

Digital Strategy & Value-Based Care

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Digital Strategy and the Shift to Value-Based Care
by Guest Author, Terence Maytin

The U.S. healthcare system is rapidly transitioning from fee-for-service to value- based care as part of massive and ongoing industry-wide transformation. Digital strategy is evolving to meet new challenges, help drive disruptive innovation, and better engage a large, growing audience of connected health consumers.

Already complex and fragmented, the healthcare sector will look very different over the coming years. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has spurred rapid innovation and disruptive change across the entire ecosystem in the quest for better quality care across the entire population at lower per capita cost. Payers are accelerating rollout of value- based payment models with providers, and the shift to pay for performance arrangements with Pharma companies is increasing as well.

Moving an entire industry from volume-oriented reimbursement requires aggressive, innovative approaches to move from traditional siloed care to collaborative models, with system-wide provider coordination, patient engagement and proactive interventions. Technology will continue to act as a critical change agent, enabling large- scale improvements in process efficiency, automation, connectivity, collaboration, interoperability and advanced analytics.

With the convergence of healthcare and digital technology, industry stakeholders are reassessing their digital strategies to help tackle new business opportunities and challenges. Just a few years ago, digital health efforts largely focused either on acquisition marketing, community aggregation, or customer service portals designed to redirect volume from higher cost channels. However amid the current environment, digital offers much greater and far-reaching impact potential than ever before.

Digital investments are ramping up to support the shift from volume to value, particularly in the areas of care coordination, patient engagement, post-discharge monitoring, measurement, and behavior change. Since 2014, venture capital has provided $10B in new funding for clinical tools, analytics, consumer engagement, mHealth, telemedicine, wearables, and business services. In 2016, firms have raised a record $1.8B.

Two important trends drive home the relevance and importance of having a comprehensive, well articulated digital strategy: the rise of consumerism and nearly ubiquitous web/mobile adoption. Across all age groups, large audiences not only already consume digital services but also expect high quality, omni-channel experiences. In order to deliver on this promise, companies must design optimized, journey-based experiences that balance customer needs, preferences, and behaviors against desired business objectives and outcomes. Companies must embrace the concept of “putting the customer first” throughout the organization and across functions (e.g. strategy, product development, marketing, operations and technology). This also must be accompanied by an insights-driven, decision-making approach.

Essentially, digital strategy will be most effective if viewed as an organizational imperative. Armed with a holistic vision and comprehensive strategy, stakeholders will be better able to leverage and capitalize on digital’s full disruptive potential to help solve some of the most pressing challenges facing healthcare today.

Healthcare Industry Transformation

The transformation of healthcare is multidimensional and complicated. Disruptive innovation, technology and consumer trends are upending traditional business models. The competitive landscape is getting ever more crowded with new entrants while at the same time, insurer and provider consolidation is accelerating.

Consumers are motivated with more skin in the game and greater information access than ever before. Payment models are shifting from volume to value, and payers, providers, pharma, and medtech will need to collaborate and coordinate to a much larger degree within a more integrated care delivery system. These factors along with intense focus on quality improvement and evidence-based outcomes have big implications for the entire care delivery continuum…

Click here to read full article

TerenceMartin  Guest Author, Terence Maytin is VP/Director | Head of Digital Strategy and Delivery | Digital Health Business Analytics and Technology  and  Strategic Advisor for First Growth VC.

Stay healthy!

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Maria Dorfner is the founder of NewsMD and Healthy  Within Network. This is her blog.
She can be reached at maria.dorfner@yahoo.com
Be sure to click red FOLLOW on upper right of this blog to be notified of new posts.
On Twitter:  Maria_Dorfner

 

 

 

 

New 30-Min. Tech for Weight Loss

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There is now a non-surgical alternative to gastric bypass.

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It’s for people with a BMI of at least 30-40 who despite changing habits can’t lose weight.

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It’s called ORBERA and it involves inflatable balloons that help you shed 20 to 80 pounds.

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ORBERA balloon is inserted down throat and into stomach using an endoscope in less than 30 min.

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The balloons are then filled with saline, filling up space in the stomach.

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The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the dual balloon technology and NYC Gastroenterologist Dr. Prem Chattoo of Hudson River Gastroenterology is one of the first doctors to offer the procedure.  His office is located in lower Manhattan.

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“It’s not a long term solution like bariatric surgery. The procedure is used for a quick, six-month weight loss to get rid of 10 percent of your body weight. After six months, the balloon is removed and you should see a pretty noticeable weight loss,” Dr. Chattoo says.

 

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The end result is weight loss and reduced hunger.

After the procedure, ORBERA has a 12-month diet and exercise program to follow.

The biggest benefits about ORBERA, according to Dr. Chattoo, are that no abdominal surgery is needed and that the procedure is completed in the same day.

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The procedure is recommended to those with a body mass index (BMI) of 30-40 or those who have other risk factors for heart disease such as diabetes or high blood pressure. A BMI or 30 or higher is defined as obese. More than a third of U.S. adults fit that range.

The procedure costs 6-8K and is not covered by insurance.

One procedure will be donated for free to one person in need who meets requirements. Contact: maria.dorfner@yahoo.com   Write:  Orbera in Subject, include your contact information.

Additional Images for Media:  https://apolloendo.box.com/s/t7ukrrujfjk4mrgjwo5l5w5obd3djmbt

For more information contact Dr. Prem Chattoo at http://www.hudsonrivergi.com

For more information about the Orbera procedure visit: http://www.orbera.com

Stay healthy!
MD

####

 

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“Always remember the benefits of daily exercise for your mind, body and spirit. If you hate or dread exercise start with walking. Break it up into 15 minutes at a time until you reach 30 minutes. Then, increase it to 45 or 60 minutes. You don’t even need a gym to do that.

Remove  all junk food from your home. Load up on healthy snacks. Remove all processed foods and soda. Drink lots of water. You’ll begin to notice a difference in 6 months. In one year, it will all be a habit.

No matter what help you get surgically or non-surgically, you always want to strive to develop lifelong healthy habits. Address the underlying of ‘why’ you select unhealthy foods. Stressed?  Find someone to talk to. There are lots of free counselling services where you can call and talk to someone confidentially.

Rushed?  Fix meals the night before.  Hate your job? Start looking for a new one.  Sit at a computer all day?  Get up every 15 minutes and walk around office. Take stairs. Depressed?  Again, find someone to talk to and exercise daily. Make an appointment with a professional psychologist if it’s really bad. When exercising,  don’t focus on the physical. Focus on the mental benefits when you start. Physical has a way of catching up when you fix your mind and thoughts first. Stay positive.

Good things take commitment, dedication and time.

Your goal should never be a quick fix, but to change habits that got you to the place where you feel tired, sluggish and unhealthy and replace them with new, better, healthy ones. You can do it.  One day at a time. ”  -Maria Dorfner

Interesting research shared by Melissa Robinson:

Brown Fat, Triggered by Cold or Exercise, May Yield a Key to Weight Control

Fat people have less than thin people. Older people have less than younger people. Men have less than younger women.

It is brown fat, actually brown in color, and its great appeal is that it burns calories like a furnace. A new study finds that one form of it, which is turned on when people get cold, sucks fat out of the rest of the body to fuel itself. Another new study finds that a second form of brown fat can be created from ordinary white fat by exercise.

Of course, researchers say, they are not blind to the implications of their work. If they could turn on brown fat in people without putting them in cold rooms or making them exercise night and day, they might have a terrific weight loss treatment. And companies are getting to work.

But Dr. André Carpentier, an endocrinologist at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec and lead author of one of the new papers, notes that much work lies ahead. It is entirely possible, for example, that people would be hungrier and eat more to make up for the calories their brown fat burns.

“We have proof that this tissue burns calories — yes, indeed it does,” Dr. Carpentier said. “But what happens over the long term is unknown.”

Until about three years ago, researchers thought brown fat was something found in rodents, which cannot shiver and use heat-generating brown fat as an alternate way to keep warm. Human infants also have it, for the same reason. But researchers expected that adults, who shiver, had no need for it and did not have it.

Then three groups, independently, reported that they had found brown fat in adults. They could see it in scans when subjects were kept in cold rooms, wearing light clothes like hospital gowns. The scans detected the fat by showing that it absorbed glucose.

There was not much brown fat, just a few ounces in the upper back, on the side of the neck, in the dip between the collarbone and the shoulder, and along the spine. Although mice and human babies have a lot more, and in different places, it seemed to be the same thing. So, generalizing from what they knew about mice, many researchers assumed the fat was burning calories.

But, notes Barbara Cannon, a researcher at Stockholm University, just because the brown fat in adults takes up glucose does not necessarily mean it burns calories.

“We did not know what the glucose actually did,” she said. “Glucose can be stored in our cells, but that does not mean that it can be combusted.”

A new paper in The Journal of Clinical Investigation by Dr. Carpentier and his colleagues answers that question and more. By doing a different type of scan, which shows the metabolism of fat, the group reports that brown fat can burn ordinary fat and that glucose is not a major source of fuel for these cells. When the cells run out of their own small repositories of fat, they suck fat out of the rest of the body.

In the study, the subjects — all men — were kept chilled, but not to the point of shivering, which itself burns calories. Their metabolic rates increased by 80 percent, all from the actions of a few ounces of cells. The brown fat also kept its subjects warm. The more brown fat a man had, the colder he could get before he started to shiver.

Brown fat, Dr. Carpentier and Jan Nedergaard, Dr. Cannon’s husband, wrote in an accompanying editorial, “is on fire.”

On average, Dr. Carpentier said, the brown fat burned about 250 calories over three hours.

But there is another type of brown fat. It has been harder to study because it often is interspersed in the white fat and does not occur in large masses. Investigators discovered it in mice years ago. Now, in a recent article, Bruce Spiegelman, professor of cell biology and medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and his colleagues report that, in mice at least, exercise can make it appear, by turning ordinary white fat brown.

When mice exercise, their muscle cells release a newly discovered hormone that the researchers named irisin. Irisin, in turn, converts white fat cells into brown ones. Those brown fat cells burn extra calories.

Dr. Spiegelman said the brown fat he studies is different from the type that appears in large, distinct masses in rodents, the type Dr. Carpentier was examining in his subjects. That brown fat is derived from musclelike cells and not from white fat.

Dr. Spiegelman suspects that humans, like mice, make brown fat from white fat when they exercise, because humans also have irisin in their blood. And human irisin is identical to mouse irisin.

“What I would guess is that this is likely to be the explanation for some of the effects of exercise,” Dr. Spiegelman says. The calories burned during exercise exceed the number actually used to do the work of exercising. That may be an effect of some white fat cells turning brown.

Many questions remain. The only brown fat that can be easily seen in people is the muscle-derived fat that shows up in scans. And that brown fat, notes Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, chief academic officer at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, is visible in people only when it is turned on by making them cold.

Almost everyone of normal weight or below shows this brown fat if they are chilled, although individuals vary greatly in how much they have. But this brown fat almost never shows up in obese people. Is that one reason they are obese, or is their extra body fat keeping them so warm that there is no reason to turn on their brown fat?

There is also an intriguing relationship between the brown fat that emerges under the skin and the density of bone. Dr. Clifford Rosen, a professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, is studying mice that cannot make brown fat and was astonished by the state of their bones.

“The animals have the worst bone density we have ever seen,” Dr. Rosen said. “I see osteoporotic bones all the time,” he added, “but, oh my God, these are the extreme.”

And while exercise may induce brown fat in humans, it remains to be seen how important a source of calorie burning it is, researchers say.

As for deliberately making yourself cold if you want to lose weight, Dr. Carpentier said, “there is still a lot of research to do before this strategy can be exploited clinically and safely.”

 

Brown Fat Burns Ordinary Fat, Study Finds – NYTimes.com

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ABOUT THIS BLOG:

 

newsmd1    MARIA DORFNER is the founder of NewsMD Communications and Healthy Within Network.  This blog is a part of that.  She began her career in 1983 at NBC News in NYC where she continued to work behind-the-scenes on TODAY SHOW, NIGHTLY NEWS and all programs until 1989 when she helped launch CNBC.

As a producer, she has produced talk shows, segments and series and travelled extensively. In 1993, she developed and senior produced 7 health series: Healthy Living, Healthcare Consumers, Healthcare Practitioners, Lifestyles and Longevity and Green Magazine.

She co-anchored Healthy Living and Healthcare Consumers airing on CNBC for three years before launching NewsMD Communications. Her clients include a Who’s Who in Medical/Health, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which she shot, wrote and produced weekly segments for  NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and Fox. Discovery Health Channel, where she wrote, produced and directed the documentary series, 21st Century Medicine. She has helped raise multi-millions of dollars for hospitals in need and has been a part of several successful health startups.  She has worked as Director of Research for Roger Ailes at Ailes Communications, his consulting and production company and again as a producer. Her articles have been published in Broadcasting & Cable Magazine and she has hosted The Secret to Success.

She has continued to be a go-to person for network heath shows, stories and content. She was awarded a health reporting scholarship from The American Medical Association (AMA), a Freddie Award for Excellence in Medical Reporting, an Outstanding Achievement Award from the March of Dimes, an Angel of a Sponsor Award from Make A Wish Foundation and an Outstanding Leadership Abilities from her alma mater, Pace University and Commitment to the Advancement of Women in Media Award.

In 2014, she published 3 books. She was also awarded a scholarship to Columbia University by NBC News. She also received  Media Recognition Award from the American Heart Association for her series Heart Smart. She has been specializing in Medical/Health for 23 years, and has worked in Media for 33 years after starting as an intern during college.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading, learning, writing, nature, hiking, swimming, bike riding, working out, cooking, exploring museums and travel. She is a certified scuba diver and aerobics swim instructor.

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“Health has been a passion of mine since I was a kid.  What I do and who I am are seamless.  I come from a large Italian family. If someone is sick I’m the one they call for research. My best friend growing up in Brooklyn was my cousin Josephine, and we’re still close. We were little health nerds. She became a pediatric nurse.  We loved researching everything to death and still do.  Two things I love and know well. Media and Medical.  Yet, I think in both, they’ve forgotten the most important person –the patient. So, I want to help put the ME back in MEdia and MEdical.  Today, it’s SO hard to know who to trust in both.  Fortunately, people are smart and they are now well aware of the various financial ties “experts” and physicians and media have to promoting certain medications or other large companies, products or services that absolutely do not serve our health or our best interests. The worst part is when we learn they knew and do not reveal it to consumers for decades, which contradicts the oath, “First do no harm.”  So  much damage has been done and no one is accountable. How do you like that. Well, ethics matter. People matter. And people want and will choose what is best for their health. People are empowered and will use their money to denounce those companies aligned with making them sick.  I created this blog to be a trusted resource for people. I do it for free because I believe Virgil is right. There is no greater wealth than health and you absolutely have to trust who is telling you information and why more than any other time in your life.  It’s even worse if you’re rich because then people try to sell you even more things. That may be fine when it’s a handbag, but your health is too precious and there are no returns or refunds if you end up paying a price for trusting the wrong advice. Remember, “expert” doesn’t always mean that.   I feel extremely blessed to be healthy.  I’ve been healthy all my life. I’ve never even had stitches.  I love to help people and my career became a vocation when I was able to utilize my communication and journalism skills to do that.” 

-Maria Dorfner

Thanks for following my health blog.

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Future Health: Lung Cancer Vaccine 5 to 10 Years Away

by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter

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  President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba this month will be the first by an American president in nearly a century. The thawing relations between the two countries are expected to bring a bumper crop of famed Cuban among other imports.

Strangely enough, another eagerly anticipated product is a lung cancer vaccine some say could be a breakthrough in oncology.

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CimaVax has reportedly been in development in Cuba for 25 years, partly because lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the Caribbean nation.

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Health reporter, Maria Dorfner spoke with Dr. Kelvin Lee from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, located in Buffalo, New York.  He says Roswell Park is finalizing an application to the FDA seeking permission to conduct a U.S. clinical trial of  the cancer vaccine and that , depending on the results from that and any subsequent studies, it would likely be 5 or more years before the drug could be widely available for patients in the U.S.   CimaVax is already an approved cancer therapy in Cuba and Peru.

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HOW IT WORKS

The injection is not like the other cancer-fighting immunotherapies being developed in hundreds of American labs, said Kelvin Lee, the chair of immunology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.

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Lee and other doctors have visited the island nation several times to meet with its Cuban developers and hear updates on their progress –and they found that the vaccine was a promising potential breakthrough.  He wrote in a post on Roswell Park’s Cancer Talk blog:

“Unlike other immunotherapies, CimaVax does not target cancer directly and it is not personalized. Rather, the vaccine targets a growth factor (EGF) necessary for the cancer to survive,” Lee said. “By targeting and effectively depleting this growth factor, the cancer starves and its progress slows, prolonging patients’ lives.”

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The results so far show that patients’ lives were extended from six to an average of 18 months with the vaccine treatment,  but there are reports of patients treated with the vaccine living five years or more.

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Lee and the other doctors see the possibility that the vaccine’s efficacy may translate to colon, head and neck, prostrate, breast and pancreatic cancers as well, and that CimaVax may prove effective in preventing some cancers from developing or recurring.

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Some studies have shown promise in CimaVax, as it has cut back the EGF needed for the cancer to progress.

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It has done this with minimal side effects, including nausea, fever and vomiting.  Survival dramatically improved in those patients with advanced Stage 3 and Stage 4 tumors, according to a Cuban study conducted in 2007.

 

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However, the vaccine has only been administered to a few thousand people worldwide –and it is still far from FDA approval, the doctor said.

A possibility of skipping Phase I testing exists, Lee added. The FDA inspection period should end sometime this year, allowing testing to begin. Lee and the other doctors envision the vaccine’s efficacy translating over to other head and neck cancers, as well.

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Cancer Research UK urged patience in looking to CimaCax, in a statement released last year.

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“This research is promising but this is a small trial and we will need more trial results before we know exactly how well the vaccine works for people with lung cancer. A phase 3 trial is currently in progress in Cuba,” they said in a statement.

Obama announced the U.S. was “extending a hand of friendship” to Cuba – just 90 miles from Florida – in December 2014. The cooperation between Cuban and American doctors began in 2011 and gained momentum with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s trade mission to Cuba in  April 2015. Since then, the U.S. has restored up to 110 daily flights to Havana.

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Among the critics of Obama’s March 21 visit to the island nations are Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both presidential hopefuls who are of Cuban descent.

 

Scientists ‘find cancer’s Achilles heel’

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Scientists believe they have discovered a way to “steer” the immune system to kill cancers.

Researchers at University College, London have developed a way of finding unique markings within a tumour – its “Achilles heel” – allowing the body to target the disease.

But the personalised method, reported in Science journal, would be expensive and has not yet been tried in patients.

Experts said the idea made sense but could be more complicated in reality.

However, the researchers, whose work was funded by Cancer Research UK, believe their discovery could form the backbone of new treatments and hope to test it in patients within two years.

They believe by analysing the DNA, they’ll be able to develop bespoke treatment.

People have tried to steer the immune system to kill tumours before, but cancer vaccines have largely flopped.

One explanation is that they are training the body’s own defences to go after the wrong target.

The problem is cancers are not made up of identical cells – they are a heavily mutated, genetic mess and samples at different sites within a tumour can look and behave very differently.

‘Exciting’

They grow a bit like a tree with core “trunk” mutations, but then mutations that branch off in all directions. It is known as cancer heterogeneity.

The international study developed a way of discovering the “trunk” mutations that change antigens – the proteins that stick out from the surface of cancer cells.

Professor Charles Swanton, from the UCL Cancer Institute, added: “This is exciting. Now we can prioritise and target tumour antigens that are present in every cell – the Achilles heel of these highly complex cancers.

“This is really fascinating and takes personalised medicine to its absolute limit, where each patient would have a unique, bespoke treatment.”

There are two approaches being suggested for targeting the trunk mutations.

The first is to develop cancer vaccines for each patient that train the immune system to spot them.

The second is to “fish” for immune cells that already target those mutations and swell their numbers in the lab, and then put them back into the body.

‘Early days’

Dr Marco Gerlinger, from the Institute of Cancer Research, said: “This is a very important step and makes us think about heterogeneity as a problem and why this gives cancer this big advantage.

“Targeting trunk mutations makes sense from many points of view, but it is early days and whether it’s that simple, I’m not entirely sure.

“Many cancers are not standing still but they keep evolving constantly. These are moving targets which makes it difficult to get them under control.

“Cancers that can change and evolve could lose the initial antigen or maybe come up with smokescreens of other good antigens so that the immune system gets confused.”


Analysis

James Gallagher, health editor, BBC News website

Harnessing the power of the immune system – what’s known as immunotherapy – is the most exciting field in cancer and probably in all of medicine right now.

But while that excitement is justified, claims that a cure for cancer is around the corner are not.

Medical research is littered with the graves of hyped treatments that just never worked.

Two decades ago, gene therapy was “hype-central” and we’re still waiting for it to transform medicine.

This study demonstrates some spectacular science that furthers understanding of how the immune system and cancer interact.

But this new knowledge has not been used to treat a single patient. There have not even been animal studies. So there is a real risk it will not work.

Even if it does, this is an hugely expensive approach that would need to be customised to every patient in a process that takes more than a year from start to finish.


Some immunotherapy treatments work spectacularly with some patients’ cancer disappearing entirely.

They take the brakes off the immune system, freeing it up to fight cancer.

The researchers hope the combination of removing the immune system’s brakes and then taking over the steering wheel, will save lives.

Professor Peter Johnson, from Cancer Research UK, said the research had shown “impressive results in the clinic” and although “the technology is complicated and quite recent… once you start doing it the cost will come down”.

‘Elegant study’

Dr Stefan Symeonides, clinician scientist in experimental cancer medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said designing a personalised vaccine was currently impractical, especially when a patient needed treatment straight away.

But he added that the “very elegant” study did provide a ground-breaking insight into current immunotherapy drugs, which do not yet work for most people.

“It’s not just the number of antigens, it’s how many of the cancer cells have them,” he said.

“This data will be quoted in discussions for years, as we try to understand which patients benefit from immunotherapy drugs, which ones don’t, and why, so we can improve those therapies.”

Follow James on Twitter.

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