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Standard Myeloma Treatment Reveals Itself as an Immunotherapy

By October 17, 2018No Comments

New research suggests that doctors may have had an incorrect understanding of how a standard treatment for an incurable blood cancer works to prolong lives. The therapy, based around high doses of chemotherapy or radiation, looks like it may actually be an immunotherapy — that is, a treatment that stimulates the patients’ own immune systems to help fight their cancers.

The scientists say that these “definitive” and “hitherto unexpected” findings in mice open the door to new strategies to harness and augment this effect and, hopefully, improve treatment outcomes for patients with multiple myeloma.

The therapy is called autologous transplant. It typically involves blasting a patient with a high dose of chemotherapy, and sometimes radiation, then giving back the patient’s own pre-collected blood-forming stem cells. The point of those cells is to re-establish normal blood and immune function after it had been destroyed, which would otherwise kill the patient. But it turns out the cells are doing something else perhaps even more important.