Former US President Jimmy Carter to be treated for brain cancer

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Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter will treat his melanoma with pharmaceutical company Merck & CO’s Keytruda, a new treatment that stimulates a patient’s immune system so that it can fight cancer on its own, Reuters reported.

Earlier this month, doctors removed about one tenth of Carter’s liver after he was diagnosed with a melanoma. The cancer, however, had already spread to his brain. To treat it, doctors have decided to use a new class of drug that works by boosting the body’s immune system.

Our immune system works by recognizing invading bodies, such as viruses, using surface proteins on T-cells called receptors. These receptors interact with viruses like a lock and key. Once inside the T-cell, the virus is enveloped and destroyed.

Cancer cells though, are able to evade T-cells by hiding from the receptors and are also able to suppress the receptors’ activity. Unlike viruses, cancer cells are not as easily destroyed and on the contrary they can multiply and spread to other tissues.

The new drug works by removing the cancer cells’ blockade on T-cell receptors so that at that point it will be up to the patient’s own immune system to fight the cancer. T-cells would then be able envelope tumoral cells and destroy them.

Pembrolizumab, which is sold under the brand name Keytruda, can cost as much as US $150,000 a year and, according to Dr. Anna Pavlick, co-director of the melanoma program at NYU Langone Medical Center's cancer center, only an estimated 40 percent of patients will respond positively to the treatment. Keytruda’s side-effects include fatigue and rash.

Carter, who took his first infusion of the drug on Wednesday, said he only had a slight reaction and doctors think he will soon be able to resume many of his regular activities.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Jimmy Carter’s liver removal and cancer spreading to his brain
2. Four cancer spots on Carter’s brain and the new drug
3. T-cell being approached by a virus
4. The virus being enveloped through receptors into the T-cell and being destroyed
5. Cancer cells approaching T-cell and creating a blockade on T-cells receptors
6. The new drug pushing away the blockade and the cancer cells being enveloped into the T-cell and destroyed

VOICEOVER (in English):

“Earlier this month, doctors removed about one tenth of Carter’s liver after he was diagnosed with a melanoma. The cancer, however, had already spread to his brain.”

“To treat the four spots of melanoma found in Carter’s brain, doctors will use a new class of drugs that works by boosting the the body’s immune system.”

“Our immune system works by recognizing invading bodies, such as viruses, using surface proteins on T-cells called receptors.”

“Viruses enter T-cells through these receptors, which interact with the viruses like a lock and key. Once inside the T-cell, the virus is enveloped and destroyed.”

“Cancer cells though, are able to evade T-cells by hiding from the receptors and are also able to suppress the receptors’ activity. Unlike viruses then, cancer cells are not as easily destroyed and on the contrary they can multiply and spread to other tissues.”

“The new drug works by removing the cancer cells’ blockade on T-cell receptors so that T-cells will be able to envelope tumoral cells and destroy them.”

SOURCES: Washington Post, Reuters
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/another-weapon-against-cancer/2015/05/28/7da387ae-057b-11e5-a428-c984eb077d4e_graphic.html
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/20/us-usa-carter-idUSKCN0QP1M820150820
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/20/us-usa-carter-treatment-idUSKCN0QP2DS20150820