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The promise of immunotherapy

Friday, 16 August, 2013 0 Comments

“YERVOY (ipilimumab) can cause serious side effects in many parts of your body which can lead to death.” That’s a rather drastic warning for a drug company to offer prospective users, but that’s exactly what Bristol-Myers Squibb is doing in the case of YERVOY (ipilimumab), which “shrank tumors significantly in about 41 percent of patients with advanced melanoma in a small study. In few of the 52 patients in the study, tumors disappeared completely, at least as could be determined by imaging.” One of that “few” is the journalist is Mary Elizabeth Williams, who writes for Salon. Since late 2011, she’s been taking part in an immunotherapy clinical trial at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan and, as she puts it, she’s “clean”. What is immunotherapy? Williams explains:

“Unlike traditional cancer treatments, immunotherapy works with the body’s own defense system, releasing the braking system on a patient’s T-cells to attack cancer. And because it works systemically, the hope is that the immune system will be able to fight not just the cancer cells that testing can detect, but anywhere it might be lurking in the body — and to continue to do so long-term.”

That’s a snippet from “My ‘truly remarkable’ cancer breakthrough,” which appeared in Salon on 17 May this year. “Because immunotherapy worked so well for enough of us, my greatest hope is that now it will work well for a whole hell of a lot more of us,” says Williams. And so say all of us. By the way, on Wednesday OncLive reported that, “Any lingering skepticism about immunotherapy as an anticancer strategy appears to have been banished by research presented at the 2013 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, with fresh data from several key trials translating into excitement in clinical circles and in the investment arena.” Faster, please.

 melanoma cells


Brilliant!

Wednesday, 17 July, 2013 0 Comments

Matt

The great Matt is a daily pleasure. Hat tip for the link: Sister Ann.


An app a day

Thursday, 20 June, 2013 0 Comments

Nowadays, a 50,000-page library of medical reference books can be converted into an app that occupies about 1GB of space on a mobile device. Some of the most popular apps being used by doctors in the field are drug databases and reference guides that deliver critical clinical information to their fingertips. Among the makers of such apps is Skyscape Inc., which licenses content from medical publishers. It’s an expanding space.


Sky blue drab green

Sunday, 6 January, 2013 0 Comments

Home for the Christmas from Brisbane, Australia, were Kieran O’Brien and Hazel O’Sullivan and they brought with them, by request, an example of Australia’s laws on cigarette and tobacco “plain packaging”, which came into force on 1 December. These latest restrictions replace brand logos and colours with dull olive-green coverings. The effect in the case […]

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How the Mad Men marketed coffee

Wednesday, 15 August, 2012

Produced by Vision Associates in 1961 as a promotional film for the Coffee Brewing Institute, This is Coffee has been placed in the public domain thanks to the Prelinger Archives. Coffee, is there anything it cannot do? Study: Coffee Lowers Colon Cancer Risk. And there’s this: Coffee Cuts Alzheimer’s Disease Risk. Drink lots today!

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On the road

Monday, 2 January, 2012

Along the road The New Year will be a year of walking. That’s the resolution here, anyway. “The most important lesson that walking teaches a writer is that, although there are certain duties that cannot be shirked, those duties are often not as difficult as they appear. Impossible-looking tasks can be carried out by breaking them down into small and practicable steps.” That’s what Christopher Caldwell wrote at the weekend in the Financial Times in a column titled “Go forth, open the mind and just walk“.

Quite a bit of research has been done on the neurochemical response to walking, and the potential of controlling mood through walking is the subject of much scientific debate. We still don’t understand all of the mechanisms involved, but it is a fact that different intensities of exercise create different chemical responses in the body. And it is beyond doubt that walking has a very positive effect on mood, which means that walking can create the mood you want. So, let’s get walking this year!

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” Søren Kierkegaard