‘Exceptional responders’ may point to personalized cancer therapy

October 8, 2014 10:03 PM

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‘Exceptional responders’ may point to personalized cancer therapy

For years, they have been among modern medicine’s most arresting fables: a 54-year-old woman sees her tumors melt away in a clinical trial, but no one else with the same lethal thyroid cancer responds. An elderly man with advanced bladder cancer enrolls in a safety study of two therapies and is the one person to see his cancer vanish for over a year. A drug flops in a clinical trial, but works for a 73-year-old woman with bladder cancer who is still alive five years later.

Physicians have traditionally viewed the rare cancer patients who bounce back from near-certain death as inspiring anecdotes, not science. But a study published by a Boston team Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine highlights a radical shift in thinking: researchers are harnessing a powe...

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