Siena November 8, 2018 – «L»immunotherapy has changed the story of treatment of tumors. Its purpose is not to increase life expectancy for all patients by one month. When it works, it is worth a very long term. There are cancer patients being treated with immunotherapeutic drugs, which have largely exceeded the life span as granted by traditional oncology. And they live even better. " It is a golden moment for cancer immunotherapy, the award of Nobel Prize to James Allison and Tasuku Honjo marked the beginning of a new era. Italy's revolutionary care is Professor Michele Maio, Director of Immuno Oncology Center at Policlinico Le Scotte di Siena, and author together with Giovanni Minoli, a book with the unambiguous title: "Cancer has already lost."
"Nobel was the icing on a long-made cake. We gather the fruits – explains Professor Maio between an interview on television and a debate – about an activity that began 30 years ago, among insiders skepticism. Also because we have achieved significant results on patient survival ".
Science is looking at immunotherapy with other eyes ..
"Before we were Cinderella of oncology, 99% of oncologists did not consider our care. International interest has increased because it hopes that promising results can be replicated for other types of tumors."
Is that why Airc wants it as a testament for collection?
"A beneficial business, I have a debt of absolute gratitude to Airc. They have always involved me in their research fund actions, they have constantly funded my projects, even when no one thought of immunotherapy. Resources that have enabled us to do much. In addition, we expect to get good results from a mega project with 70-80 Italian researchers. It will last 7 years, once in Italy, with 15 million total investment in cancer immunotherapy. "
How would you explain immunotherapy in simple words?
"It's an epoch change because it's a mental revolution, a mutation of perspective. As breaking into a new generation of oncologists, they can free themselves from chemotherapy chemotherapy. Chemo directly attacks tumor cells: if in two months he fails in his goal, the oncologist knows that he has to change tactics. With immunotherapy, you must train your immune system to do what it has always done: to destroy cancer cells. "
However, the immune system often does not recognize the sick cells …
"Therefore, we use drugs that can reactivate defense against viruses, bacteria and cells that have been transformed. They work on the entire system, they do not reach the tumor, but they create and reactivate appropriate defense to fight it. And even if the disease progresses, you can Continue to do the therapy because it can react later. "
The best successes have come against blood cancer?
"Even for" solid "tumors, like cutaneous melanoma. Until 2013 there was no drug that could increase patient survival. Chemotherapy was used for charity. Today, with immunotherapeutic drugs we have tripled patient survival for up to 10 years. And there are immunotherapeutic drugs for lung, kidney and throat cancer, for Hodgkin's lymphoma. "
The beauty is that they are without side effects …
"It's one of the aspects that fascinates me the most. Our patients often continue their normal lives. In Siena, an engineer is being treated, who, after the treatment, flies to Russia for his work."
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