"" Ralph Moss—Cancer Consultant: 2018-11-04

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


Electron microscopic picture of blood, including lymphocytes

Scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland, have reported putting a woman with advanced, stage IV breast cancer into complete remission using an innovative form of immunotherapy.

A team of almost two dozen NCI scientists reported on the case of Judy Perkins, a 49-year-old engineer from Florida who had metastatic breast cancer. Like many patients, her tumor was estrogen receptor-positive and HER2-negative. According to their report in Nature Medicine, the treatment destroyed her cancer cells so effectively that she has been in remission for two years. The NCI doctors who cared for her have called her response “remarkable.” 

The Ultimate Challenge

"My condition deteriorated a lot towards the end," she said, "and I had a tumor pressing on a nerve, which meant I spent my time trying not to move at all to avoid pain shooting down my arm. I had given up fighting,” she told the Guardian. “After the treatment dissolved most of my tumors, I was able to go for a 40-mile hike." She also stated: "I even recently paddled 1,200 miles around the state of Florida by sea kayak as part of the Ultimate Florida Challenge."
Her treatment consisted of removing some of her tumor and also white blood cells that had already infiltrated the area around the cancer cells. These were then programmed to enhance their cancer-killing effects and injected back into the her body. The result was a massive kill-off of cancer cells, with no sign of any remaining malignancy.
Ms. Perkins also received an immune checkpoint inhibitor, pembrolizumab (Keytruda®) but that drug alone does not often result in dramatic regressions in this type of breast cancer.
Of course, it will take a full-scale clinical trial to know how often (if at all) this sort of "miracle" can be reproduced in others. Nonetheless, breakthrough treatments sometimes emerge from single case reports. This remarkable event certainly justifies all the attention that has been paid to cancer  immunotherapy in recent years, including the 2018 Nobel Prize to scientists who first developed immune checkpoint inhibitors.
Interested readers can learn more details on Ms. Perkins's case in the scientific report below:
Link to the original article