James Alison, one of the Nobel Prize-winners for medicine in 2018, said that cancer "It will not disappear as a health problem" and although immunotherapy for which it is rewarded will improve, it focuses on prevention and a healthy lifestyle.
Alison (70) and Japan's Tasuku Honjo (76) have developed a brand new principle for cancer treatment stimulation of the body's immune system to attack tumor cells.
Although, thanks to immunotherapy, important advances have been achieved in the treatment of cancer such as metastatic melanoma, it still does not work in all species or in all patients, hence the investigations in this promising area.
The immunologist believes that "cancer will not disappear as a health problem," but there will be better ways to fight it, although the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Foundation focuses on prevention as "most cases" of melanomas " are caused by the way of life. "
Immunotherapy will improve, he says, and "in the long run will treat almost all melanomas, a large part of lung cancer, almost the entire kidney, and others can be."
Melanoma, where immunotherapy produces excellent results, has many mutations, and the immune system is "easier to attack," but in the case of tumors such as glioblastoma or pancreas with many myeloid cells, "no efficacy", so the investigation continues.
Allison knows what she's talking about when it comes to cancer: her mother died when she was ten years old, and one of her brothers – "my family is struck a lot" by the disease, she says – and he has survived three times, the latter is subjected to immunotherapy, "hard but very effective".
One principal researcher, his first goal is to "really understand" how T cells work – a type of soldier from the immune system – because "he was convinced that if he found it" he could get them to do what they wanted and thus treat cancer,
He found that there are molecules in the body that activate or slow down T cells, so controlling them can cause the body's defense to attack cancer cells and remember them.
Alison does not agree with those doctors who say that cancer should become a "manageable" disease – some believe it can never be considered completely cured – because in this case, patients "feel they always look over their shoulders if they can to return.
With immunotherapy, "at least with melanoma, if you resist four years, you will not come back"And it is necessary" that at one point they feel healed, although they have to be checked from time to time ".