A Look Ahead...
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Please read one, but not both, of the following websites:



  1. Create a discussion thread on this page using the 'Add Comment' link below in which you identify and discuss an aspect of what is discussed in the site you read that you found particularly inspiring, and
  2. Offer your thoughts on at least one other student's original comment (if you're among the first to post, you may need to return to this site later to build on another student's thread).
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  1. I read the Cancer Immunotherapy article by the American Cancer Society. What I found particularly interesting is that not only are we continually discovering new ways to fight cancer, we can now either boost or block the immune system's natural processes in an attempt to stop the growth of cancer cells. This is done either through monoclonal antibodies (boost the natural process) or immune checkpoint inhibitors (block the natural process).  

    1. This is very interesting, but I wonder how they decide which of the two processes are better for stopping the growth of cancer cells based on the individual patient's situation and diagnosis. It would be interesting to know what ways doctors and researchers can tell what process would work better and if they would possibly use both of these in an alternating style to best cure the disease. 

    2. Hi Julia!

      Immunotherapy is an exciting advance, but I wonder if it's the next in a long list of advances that went through the same story arc as those presented in "The Emperor of All Maladies".  It's impossible! ... It's possible! ... It's a miracle panacea! ... It's just another tool that is sometimes useful, sometimes not.

    3. The new ways we are developing are very intriguing, the fact that we are and continue to make strides to the fight against cancer is very hopeful and the results can be seen but there is still enormous hope for growth.  

  2. I read the Stanford Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine. I enjoyed learning about Pharmacogenomics and found out that individualized dosages of certain drugs work better for some people than others. The research of this method of treating patients is extremely important to the future of curing diseases in the best possible way as individualized treatments for each patient could vastly improve the accuracy of the drug in targeting different diseases in patients. This research could also lead to specialized drugs and doses based off of patients' specific genetic variation which, if the technology and access to this type of treatment developed further, would greatly help in overall treatments of different diseases. 

    1. Hey Matthew!

      What's also really cool is that Maine is among the vanguard in personalized medicine. We'll talk about this next week!

    2. This is very interesting how we are now able to use different dosages of drugs for different people so that they can have a very individualized recovery.

  3. I read the Stanford Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine article. I found it inspiring how genomics will transform the way doctors approach treatments, leading to improved methods of identifying and treating some of today's most prevalent and devastating diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's. Genome sequencing is a powerful tool in personalized medicine. I am interested to see how this quickly this technology advances and the effect it will have on the medical community.

    1. It is amazing to think about how personalized medicine will become in the coming years and how it will change medical care. It is also interesting to think about how personalized medicine change other aspects of society. 

    2. Hi Sophia!

      Soon genomics will only be a small part of personalized medicine. We'll talk about the other "omics" that will likely be involved.

    3. I agree with you! I find it fascinating that genomics have transformed the way doctors identify and treat patients. I think it has already had a huge effect on the medical community, especially in cancer treatments, and will continue to advance. 

    4. I find it interesting how personalized medicine can be used to treat diseases other than cancer. It will be interesting to see how the individualization of medicine will affect the health of patients in the future.

    5. Genome sequencing or genetic engineering is truly a powerful tool, and I just find it cool that we are able to modulate the secret code of life. I'd say it'll be the most popular treatment for cancer in the next ten years or so. 

  4. While I find the idea of Immunotherapy awe inspiring I still can't help but wonder after reading the looking back excerpt how useful will this treatment be in the long run. Will it be added to the long list of failed attempts to successfully treat cancer or will this be the treatment that can evolve into a permanent solution? One thing I am sure of is that in a hundred years we will be looking back all of today's cancer treatments as dated. It is exciting to wonder about what the next discoveries will be in the medical world and how they will undoubtably be linked to the newest technology.  

    1. The thing about cancer that separates it from many other diseases is how many different types there are and the broad range in which each can affect an individual.  It is hard to imagine a singular, final cure that treats all cancer.  I wonder the same thing as you do which is how useful the treatment will be in the future and what path the research on this subject will take us, whether it is more useful in a certain area of cancer treatment or if it will later be seen as outdated.  I guess only time will tell and I am very excited to see where it goes.

    2. I agree with the question that you raise about immunotherapy. Cancer treatments have come a long way even in our lifetimes and we're not that old! I think it will be exciting to see how treatments for cancer progress as we continue to understand more and more about the body and how certain treatments affect people. 

    3. I agree Sarah. Reading how antiseptic techniques in surgery (wait, I need to wash my hands before cutting open a chest cavity?) were once considered 'modern', it does make you wonder what cancer therapy will be in 10, 20, 50 years!

    4. I agree that it is very exciting thinking about the next discoveries, the progress, the next breakthrough. It is already amazing to think about the amount of developments that are made at each moment, but thinking about the future and its technology and treatments is  unimaginable and mind-blowing to say the least.

  5. I read the American Cancer Society’s “What is Cancer Immunotherapy?” article.  What I found interesting is the idea that we are creating advances that help our own body fight and prevent the spread of cancer instead of outside treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery or different drug concoctions.  At first glance, this method seems to be a much more healthy and viable way to treat cancer, however after some thought I do start to wonder if this is in fact true. Most of the time when we think of our immune systems working, they are attacking some sort of foreign particle, whether it is a germ, virus etc.  However the thing about cancer is that it originally stems from our own body when some of our cells start to divide out of control. The article uses the term “taking the brakes off the immune system” which to me can sound potentially dangerous, especially when we are talking about fighting something that in many cases is not much different than our body’s normal immature cell.  Without treatment the body generally does not see cancer cells as foreign at all, so how they force the immune system to differentiate between normality and cancer is something that I find extremely interesting and will definitely have to do some more research on.

    1. You touch on some very important points here Evan. It's complicated indeed. In the abstract, the thinking could be that Mother Nature is smarter than we are, so harnessing a natural process might ultimately be more powerful than a chemotherapeutic agent or the like. We'll see...

    2. I agree with your point about how taking the brakes off the immune system may become dangerous because it reminds me of how the body responds to allergies.

  6. If cancer immunotherapy is taking the "brakes off the immune system", I wonder if this could lead to issues similar to an autoimmune disease. I agree that this seems dangerous. The problem with this form of treatment along with several others mentioned in The Emperor of Maladies seems to be ensuring that the treatment is able to differentiate between normal cells and cancer cells.

    1. I agree. I was also wondering about the side effects of such a treatment. Changing the bodies immune system could have unintentional consequences. 

      1. To expand upon that idea: should there be a heightened need for regulation on procedures that deal specifically with tampering with one's immune system, given the unpredictability of the consequences? Should a child be able to be subjected to such a risky medical endeavor, even if faced with a disease like cancer? 

  7. Immunotherapy seems like a great treatment for cancer. It uses resources already available in the body. This treatment makes logical sense, why not help the bodies dedicated resources do what they were designed to do. I believe the immune system checkpoint inhibitors would be an especially effective method since they use the machinery of the body and make up for its failings. I however do wonder why this solution has not worked in the past, and also what the side effects of treatment would be. 

  8. I read articles about immunotherapy from the American cancer society. Knowing very minimal about cancer and cancer research and treatment I learned quite a lot about it. Immunotherapy I found very fascinating as it uses the immune system to help fight against cancer cells. Other forms of Immunotherapy like using monoclonal antibodies which doctors can design antibodies for the specific patient so that it they can attack specific antigens and kill cancer cells.

    1. I think using monoclonal antibodies seems to be a plausible solution for me. Just like what Farber did at past,  It would only focus on one kind of cancer cell at once, since there are lot of differences between different kinds of cancer cells. 

  9. I read the article about immunotherapy. Realizing how immune system functions when encountering cancer cells, I think immune checkpoint prohibitor would be an effective way. Compared to past methods, I think now scientists are more focusing on solutions on micro level. With technological advancement, scientist could study how immune cells recognize cancer cells and try to work out a "senser" to specifically locate on certain kinds of cancer cells. However, I think this method might also have some problems. Firstly it is hard to locate all kinds of cancer cells at once. Secondly, since cancer cells are evolving all the time, and the "senser" could not catich cancer cells anymore after a period of time.

  10. I read the immunotherapy articles and one that really stuck out to me was the side effects article.  Because for one there is so many different side effects to deal with, and the range of physical to mental and emotional side effects is quite significant.  But what stuck out most of all to me was that through treatments you risk developing other types of cancer.  So therefore cancer patients go in risking there life with no guarantees whatsoever.  This is what makes all cancer patients a special breed because of their mental toughness and their courage to continue to fight.  

    1. It really goes to show how cruel a disease cancer is, and the lengths people have to go through in order to have a chance of living a normal life. There is still much to discover about cancer in order to properly and safely treat those unfortunate enough to have it.

  11. I read the Stanford Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine article. I found the article fascinating because not only are scientists able to sequence individual genomes, they are able to look for specific genes involved in causing cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and cardiovascular disease and use target drugs to slow or even stop disease progression. With wide genetic variation from individual to individual, scientists can use their research to determine which genes vary and how they can be addressed and treated in different circumstances. Personalized medicine has revolutionized the treatment and care of patients because medicine is now more effective due to individualization. 

  12. I chose to read the cancer immunotherapy article, and found myself realizing just how ignorant I was to the different treatment options that are available for cancer patients today. All this time I believed that radiation or surgery was the only way to rid the body of cancer, and so I found it incredible interesting to read about a new and advanced way to treat a disease that has been around for so long. I found the description of cancer vaccines even more interesting as I had always thought of vaccines as a preemptive measure taken to combat disease, not a measure taken after the disease has infiltrated the body. I liked learning about a new aspect to vaccines, a practice that has helped every person born in a developed countries in one way or another, and the constant evolution of cancer research and treatment also fascinated me greatly. Another intriguing article that offers insight into a disease that has affected almost everyone in one way or another over so many years!

    1. I agree with this I also assumed chemotherapy and surgery were the only options – much like the first article discussed. It is such an interesting contrast to a relatively bleak article on the limited options of treatment. It makes me wonder how we could create new treatments by asking better questions. These questions are the beginning of all experiments and we need to look outside the box instead of simply improving surgery and chemo techniques as discussed in the first article. 

  13. I liked how developed they were in their research and how they continued to discover more things about the disease the more they studied it. For example, in the late 1880s they discovered that Leukemia was a malignant proliferation of white cells in the blood, or cancer in a liquid form. Then, as they dug deeper into it by the 1900s they further discovered that leukemia had several forms chronic and indolent. 

  14. I read the cancer immunotherapy and thought it was an interesting way to fight cancer by helping our immune system learn to recognize and fight it off. What I am wondering is if in the distant future this will be able to treat all forms of cancer rather than just a few.

    1. I agree and I am also interested in how immunotherapy will progress in the future and to see whether or not it could become the cure.

  15. I read the immunotherapy article and I found it interesting that they were not actually attacking the cancer cells directly and instead they are trying to train the immune system to attack the cells. I am also interested in how effective this is and whether or not it could ever become a cure, or only a form of treatment.

  16. Reading the article about immunotherapy, I found it incredible that there was so much ability to manipulate the body's system to fight off disease. It is amazing to see how much the knowledge in health has grown, and is continually growing. However, this treatment seems very risky, and the patient basically has to give up everything due to the compromised immune system in order to just survive. 

  17. I elected to read further into the article that examined what cancer immunotherapy is. More specifically, I explored the tangent pertaining to the immune checkpoint inhibitors and how they are utilized to treat cancer. In recognizing the unpredictable tendencies of cancer, regardless of the strength of the immune system in question, the source articulates that there are certain biological defenses that can combat the disease itself. The article highlights how certain drugs can be applied to ensure that various checkpoints are able to produce certain molecular activations to trigger cancer detection. Having limited knowledge of how cancer treatments actually occur, I was amazed at the technological capabilities that allowed for said reactions to be artificially generated. I would be intrigued to see whether there is a certain threshold in which the aforementioned drugs are able to be applied as preventative measures to stop the development of cancer. In other words, is there a certain point in which it is medically impossible to begin immunizing humans from the risk of cancer cell development? Is there anything preventing us from inserting drugs reminiscent of the ones discussed in the reading in a way that would prevent the development of cancer cells altogether?

  18. I read the cancer immunotherapy article, and I did not know that boosting one’s own immune system can be helpful in preventing and fighting against certain cancers. Treatments such as immunotherapy demonstrate how far medicine has come in treating what was once an impossible disease to even ameliorate. Although cancer can be frightening even in this day and age, there are ways in which medical advances can still make life better for patients.

    1. I agree, I think that reading this article and showing that there are still many different ways to fight cancer, and if one doesn't work there is always another method to try. This multitude of methods provides real hope to those suffering and that is what is most important to those who are fighting for their lives. 

  19. I chose to read the immunotherapy articles and for me the most inspiring article was the one about cancer research. From it I learned that there was much more progress toward cures for cancer than I thought there were. It is unfortunate that some of the more promising methods are not viable because of costs and the individualized nature of cancer treatments, but it is a relief to know that the likelihood of surviving cancer may increase after these treatments finish their clinical trials.

  20. I read the immunotherapy article introducing the treatment that uses one’s own immune system to fight off cancer. I feel like this is the best treatment because it takes advantage of our own defense system, which should be responsible for cancer curation yet can’t do so. Stimulating the patient’s immune system could not only treat cancer but also help the patient to become more resistant to other diseases, so it’s a treatment that goes beyond cancer.

    1. I like how you brought up how it could help the patient become more resistant to other diseases, not just cancer. While reading the article I was only focused on cancer but reading your comment made me realize how beneficial immunotherapy could be for many more diseases as well. 

  21. I read the immunotherapy article. I thought it was very interesting because prior to reading I didn't know that immunotherapy was a thing. I believe that immunotherapy can be a very beneficial way to fight cancer. If scientists can keep advancing immunotherapy and find a way to help the immune system locate and attack cancer cells, so many lives could be saved. 

  22. I read American Cancer Society's immunotherapy article on cancer vaccines and found it incredibly interesting. It talks about using vaccines used to fight diseases that cause cancer, and how those vaccines could in turn be used to fight cancer itself. However it also talks about the concept of using these regular vaccines preemptively to stop certain diseases so those patients don't develop cancer as a result of these affiliations. Overall I believe that this method of attacking cancer is a result of the great ingenuity that its flowing through medicine at this time and represents that cancer is such a complex disease and will most likely require several different methods to completely cure.  

  23. I read the article on immunotherapy and thought back to taking antibiotics as a kid for strep throat. While reading the article, I wondered why immunotherapy hadn't been tested earlier on. We know that providing white blood cells with a "boost" through antibiotics helps for bacterial infections such as strep throat, so it why not test this on cancer? What was interesting was that the body doesn't recognize cancer cells as foreign bodies, and that we could provide a medicine that would allow white blood cells to see them as such. I wonder how this applies throughout the field of medicine. Whereas, I have only heard of the opposite – providing medicine to prevent white blood cells from attacking foreign bodies that are not harmful.

  24. The article on immunotherapy was interesting to me, cause it shows how the understanding of cancer has evolved drastically. I was also intrigued by how simple It sounded. After reading the article I was still pretty confused on how the disease is still so hard to stop, because it seems to be so well understood. People know why the cancer gets overlooked, but they still can't stop it all the time. The article just made me ask myself more questions about cancer and how it works.