Interesting article about Ron Walker's determination to survive cancer, highlights the development of new PD-1 drugs: Merck's Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo with Roche and AstraZeneca also in advanced stages of testing drugs that work similarly. 'I don't want to die, I still have things to do': Keytruda wins Ron Walker's war on cancer ".....Keytruda is an immunotherapy drug, like Yervoy, which co-opts the body's immune system into recognising, attacking and destroying cancer cells. It acts in a different way to Yervoy; Keytruda blocks a molecule called PD-1. "The cancer is very clever. It puts out this molecule PD-1 and turns off the body's immune response so it can survive and stop the immune system from attacking it," says McArthur. Keytruda specifically disrupts that molecular interaction. "We still have to stop and take a breath at how it could be this relatively simple," says McArthur. "We are very surprised. This is the biggest breakthrough we've had." Some researchers say that blocking PD-1 triggers an immune response more targeted to the cancer than Yervoy. The latter works earlier on in the immune-cell activation process and the concern is that because of this it may cause more damage to normal tissue. Trials comparing Yervoy and Keytruda are ongoing. McArthur says his best estimate of the potential success rate of Keytruda, based on available data, "is going to be in the order of 40 per cent". ...So far, Keytruda has been most effective treating melanoma and certain lung cancers but it is being trialled in about 30 cancers, such as breast, bladder and gastric, on more than 6000 patients globally. ...Walker's cancer story is one of determination, perseverance and how he almost didn't make it. He remains under the tight surveillance of his doctors. The results are incredible but it is early days. It remains to be seen whether Keytruda helps put patients into permanent remission or whether the cancer comes back. Cancer has returned in some patients treated with Keytruda. What the drug does offer patients such as Walker is hope that scientists are advancing on a cure for different forms of cancer. Cancer is hundreds of diseases and there will never be one silver bullet. But if there are one or two bullets for some cancers, it's a start..." Read more: The story first appeared in The Australian Financial Review Magazine.
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