The breakthrough Immunotherapy and the race to cure cancer

Charles Graeber

Book - 2018

Draws on the experiences of patients, physicians, and researchers to explain the revolutionary development of immunotherapy as a treatment for cancer and how that information is being harnessed to create more effective patient therapies.

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2nd Floor 616.994/Graeber Due Dec 13, 2021
Subjects
Published
New York : Twelve 2018.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
302 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (page 227-288) and index.
ISBN
9781455568505
1455568503
Main Author
Charles Graeber (author)
  • Patient 101006 JDS
  • A simple idea
  • Glimmers in the darkness
  • Eureka, Texas
  • The three E's
  • Tempting fate
  • The chimera
  • After the gold rush
  • It's time
  • Appendix A: Types of immunotherapies now and upcoming
  • Appendix B: The breakthrough, in brief
  • Appendix C: A brief anecdotal history of disease, civilization, and the quest for immunity.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Cut, burn, poison. Harsh-sounding traditional treatments (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy) for cancer that identify malignancy as the cruel adversary it is. An estimated half of cancer patients cannot currently be cured. Immunotherapy is poised to be a uniquely useful treatment. It essentially weaponizes and unleashes the body's immune system so that antibodies serve as microscopic guided missiles and re-engineered T cells work as supersoldiers that recognize and attack tumors. Graeber concisely reviews the science of cancer and the natural functioning of the immune system. He introduces researchers and oncologists in the field and provides stories of patients with melanoma, kidney cancer, sarcoma, and leukemia. Two major developments in cancer immunotherapy are checkpoint inhibitors (e.g., FDA-approved ipilimumab) and chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CAR-T), an ingenious laboratory modification of T cells extracted from a patient with cancer and then injected back into that patient. Each CAR-T cell is capable of destroying up to 100,000 cancer cells. The risks of tinkering with an intricate immune system are obviously high, even perilous. But the potential reward is a cure. Exciting reading. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

"Hype can be dangerous, just as false hope can be cruel," journalist Graeber (The Good Nurse) writes in this lucid and informed report on how doctors and medical researchers, advancing beyond a "cut, burn, and poison" approach to fighting cancer, discovered how to use the human immune response to attack mutant cells. Graeber recalls the "crushing failure" cancer immunotherapy suffered in the 1970s, and the giddy over-optimism seen in the 1980s before cancer breakthroughs such as interferon drugs went bust and immunotherapy research was left to a "handful of true believers." His narrative moves from the grueling stories of research experiments and drug trials—through which pharmaceutical companies "spread their bets" over a variety of potential drugs—to the even more grueling experiences of cancer patients. Graeber focuses on the scientific developments and the "mind-blowing possibilities," such as cellular therapy, in which living cells are used to fight cancer. Noting there are 940 immunotherapeutic drugs being tested by more than a half million patients, with another 1,064 drugs in the preclinical stage, he predicts the cancer cure lies in the personalized immunotherapy route. Graeber gives readers a basis for both understanding the challenges involved and for cautious optimism that a cure can be found. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House. (Nov.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

"Hype can be dangerous, just as false hope can be cruel," journalist Graeber (The Good Nurse) writes in this lucid and informed report on how doctors and medical researchers, advancing beyond a "cut, burn, and poison" approach to fighting cancer, discovered how to use the human immune response to attack mutant cells. Graeber recalls the "crushing failure" cancer immunotherapy suffered in the 1970s, and the giddy over-optimism seen in the 1980s before cancer breakthroughs such as interferon drugs went bust and immunotherapy research was left to a "handful of true believers." His narrative moves from the grueling stories of research experiments and drug trials—through which pharmaceutical companies "spread their bets" over a variety of potential drugs—to the even more grueling experiences of cancer patients. Graeber focuses on the scientific developments and the "mind-blowing possibilities," such as cellular therapy, in which living cells are used to fight cancer. Noting there are 940 immunotherapeutic drugs being tested by more than a half million patients, with another 1,064 drugs in the preclinical stage, he predicts the cancer cure lies in the personalized immunotherapy route. Graeber gives readers a basis for both understanding the challenges involved and for cautious optimism that a cure can be found. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House. (Nov.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

"Hype can be dangerous, just as false hope can be cruel," journalist Graeber (The Good Nurse) writes in this lucid and informed report on how doctors and medical researchers, advancing beyond a "cut, burn, and poison" approach to fighting cancer, discovered how to use the human immune response to attack mutant cells. Graeber recalls the "crushing failure" cancer immunotherapy suffered in the 1970s, and the giddy over-optimism seen in the 1980s before cancer breakthroughs such as interferon drugs went bust and immunotherapy research was left to a "handful of true believers." His narrative moves from the grueling stories of research experiments and drug trials—through which pharmaceutical companies "spread their bets" over a variety of potential drugs—to the even more grueling experiences of cancer patients. Graeber focuses on the scientific developments and the "mind-blowing possibilities," such as cellular therapy, in which living cells are used to fight cancer. Noting there are 940 immunotherapeutic drugs being tested by more than a half million patients, with another 1,064 drugs in the preclinical stage, he predicts the cancer cure lies in the personalized immunotherapy route. Graeber gives readers a basis for both understanding the challenges involved and for cautious optimism that a cure can be found. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House. (Nov.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Draws on the experiences of patients, physicians, and researchers to explain the revolutionary development of immunotherapy as a treatment for cancer and how that information is being harnessed to create more effective patient therapies.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The best-selling author of The Good Nurse details the latest breakthroughs in oncological science and the discovery of the code to unleashing the human immune system, sharing insights into the paradigm-shifting potential of immunotherapy in curing cancer.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Follow along as this New York Times bestselling author details the astonishing scientific discovery of the code to unleashing the human immune system to fight in this "captivating and heartbreaking" book (The Wall Street Journal).For decades, scientists have puzzled over one of medicine's most confounding mysteries: Why doesn't our immune system recognize and fight cancer the way it does other diseases, like the common cold?As it turns out, the answer to that question can be traced to a series of tricks that cancer has developed to turn off normal immune responses -- tricks that scientists have only recently discovered and learned to defeat. The result is what many are calling cancer's "penicillin moment," a revolutionary discovery in our understanding of cancer and how to beat it.In The Breakthrough, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Nurse Charles Graeber guides readers through the revolutionary scientific research bringing immunotherapy out of the realm of the miraculous and into the forefront of twenty-first-century medical science. As advances in the fields of cancer research and the human immune system continue to fuel a therapeutic arms race among biotech and pharmaceutical research centers around the world, the next step -- harnessing the wealth of new information to create modern and more effective patient therapies -- is unfolding at an unprecedented pace, rapidly redefining our relationship with this all-too-human disease.Groundbreaking, riveting, and expertly told, The Breakthrough is the story of the game-changing scientific discoveries that unleash our natural ability to recognize and defeat cancer, as told through the experiences of the patients, physicians, and cancer immunotherapy researchers who are on the front lines. This is the incredible true story of the race to find a cure, a dispatch from the life-changing world of modern oncological science, and a brave new chapter in medical history.