A meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology is taking place this weekend in Chicago, and a spate of genuinely hopeful stories is emerging about new drugs and strategies. The Wall Street Journal says significant progress has been made at last in training the body's own immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. Bristol-Myers Squibb, for example, is presenting studies showing that two experimental drugs employing this "immunotherapy" strategy shrank tumors in patients with advanced melanoma, kidney, and lung cancers.
"Those of us in the field really see this as a breakthrough moment," says a researcher at Johns Hopkins and a lead author of one of the studies. Another promising area: Pairing antibody drugs with doses of chemo, which results in the chemo getting delivered precisely to the tumor. Think of a "guided missile," in the words of the Journal, while the New York Times says it's a step closer to the long-sought "magic bullet" in cancer treatment. It also means far less severe side effects for patients.