Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH (National Institutes of Health), in his testimony, outlined what he intends to do with the very generous funds for the NIH that have been included in President Obama’s budget.
One of the major concerns he spoke about was the strides made in the treatment of cancer. The quote below brought to my mind, “Why couldn’t this same research be applied to ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis)? According to Dr. Collins, researchers have discovered a way to prevent the cancer cells from getting through the body’s natural immune system.
Our immune system has T-cells to stop and reject foreign cells; however, these same cells need to be told when not to go into overdrive when the cancer cells get through the body’s defenses.
Immune dysfunction is one of the major symptoms from which ME patients suffer. Dr. Collins’ testimony regarding research which allows the normal immune response to be re-activated seems to hit the nail on the head, not only for cancer, but for ME as well. The immune system in ME patients seems to give up: it can’t seem to fight off the invading viruses’ strong hold in their bodies.
Please read the quote, and you will see what I’m zeroing in on:
“Researchers have long been puzzled by the uncanny ability of cancer cells to evade the immune response. What stops the body from waging its own “war on cancer?” As it turns out, our bodies have important built-in checkpoints to prevent our immune systems from running amok and killing healthy cells. Certain white blood cells called T-cells—the armed soldiers of the immune system—are designed to go after foreign invaders, but they also need a stop signal to prevent going into overdrive. One way to do this is through a receptor on the T-cell called CTLA-4 that inhibits its function. Tumor cells have figured out how to take advantage of this pathway by up-regulating CTLA-4; the result is to put the brakes on the immune system, giving the green light for the cancer to grow.
NIH-funded researchers have discovered a way to release the brakes by introducing a monoclonal antibody against CTLA-4, allowing the normal immune response to be re-activated. Dr. James Allison, who led the basic science efforts that led to these insights, was just honored with the receipt of the Lasker Award, the “American Nobel Prize.” Promising results in patients with metastatic melanoma and lung cancer are making this and other immunotherapies the breakthrough treatment of the future. After President Carter was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic melanoma, he received immunotherapy as part of his treatment.”
Of course, I’m just a lay person. I haven’t had medical training; however, my mind usually works in an organized way, and of course, I may be completely wrong about my idea above. I welcome any opinions. Anyone out there in the blogosphere?
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