The big story in cancer research is the recent success of immunotherapy, which involves training and re-engineering the immune system to kill cancers. The New York Times featured four women whose rare, aggressive ovarian cancers were unexpectedly cured with immunotherapy. This story resulted from research by Dmitriy Zamarin, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ’13–’16), of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, who studied these patients to understand why they responded to this treatment (nivolumab/Opdivo). In addition, two other Damon Runyon alumni were featured. Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator ’03–’08), of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, led the clinical trials for the first FDA-approved immunotherapy and continues research to understand why it works in some patients, but not others. Eliezer M. Van Allen, MD (Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator ’15–’18), of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, identified a genetic mutation that may explain why these patients and those with other unique cancers have responded to this therapy, which may help identify others who might benefit from immunotherapy.

Read the article, “Doctors Said Immunotherapy Would Not Cure Her Cancer. They Were Wrong.” in the New York Times.

This article was originally published by Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. It is republished with permission.