The drugs, still generally in early testing, work in an entirely new way, by unleashing the immune system to attack cancer cells much as it attacks bacteria. That could be an alternative to often-debilitating chemotherapy.
The article summarizes the reasons for the appeal of immunotherapy:
Harnessing the immune system is appealing for several reasons. It might be applicable to many different types of cancer. It might produce longer lasting remissions than can be achieved by chemotherapy or the newer targeted drugs. And it seems somehow more natural and holistic.
While it is unclear how soon these drugs could reach the market (the article suggests as soon as a year and a half from now), it is encouraging to hear the enthusiasm of the medical community for what could be “an important milestone in the fight” against cancer.
For more encouraging news regarding immunotherapy see “Training the Immune System to Attack Cancer: A New Clinical Trial at Stanford.”