How to ride the new wave of immune therapies | Prof Brendon Coventry and Jill O’Donnell-Tormey PhD Show the Way

Good news on cancer: There is a definite change in the wind! The face of oncology is changing. Both cancer patients and oncologists are undergoing a cancer metamorphosis. Treatments are moving – albeit slowly from a killing cancer focus to a focus on retraining the body’s own immune system to seek and destroy cancer cells.

Good news on cancer: There is a definite change in the wind! The face of oncology is changing. Both cancer patients and oncologists are undergoing a cancer metamorphosis. Treatments are moving – albeit slowly from a killing cancer focus to a focus on retraining the body’s own immune system to seek and destroy cancer cells.

Riding the wave of new immune therapies. Pic: ABC News
Riding the wave of new immune therapies. Pic: ABC News

Last week on Navigating the Cancer Maze internet radio Prof Brendon Coventry spoke about cancer vaccines and in particular about his success treating advanced melanoma.

He also spoke about the importance of measuring a patient’s immune cycle as a new approach to that value-adds to the “New Wave” of immunotherapy treatments against cancer.

Click here to listen to that interview if you missed it – (live streaming or download on itunes to listen later at no cost).

Questions from cancer patients clearly demonstrate a thirst for knowledge about immune therapies.

Therefore – today – I have replayed my interview from mid last year(2014) with Cancer Research Institute’s CEO Jill O’Donnell-Tormey PhD.  Click Jill’s name to be redirected to the interview on Voice America internet radio. In this interview Jill provided a clear picture of where immune therapies are headed and what they actually do and where you can find trials and treatments.

Jill talks about the new immunotherapy pharmaceuticals – an innovative class of drugs that block PD-1.  (Stands for programmed cell death protein 1). PD-1 inhibitors, activate the immune system to attack tumors and are therefore used to treat cancer.  These drugs have complex names such as nivolumab successfully used in non-small-cell lung cancer, melanoma, and renal-cell cancer; Pembrolizumab; intended for use in treating metastatic melanoma; to name but a few. Then there are CTLA-4 antibodies such as Ipilimumab; a fully human, monoclonal antibody that overcomes CTLA-4–mediated T-cell suppression to enhance the immune response against tumors.

Anti-PD-1 and Anti-PD-L1 Antibodies – Unlike CTLA-4 antibodies, the PD-1/PD-L1 antibodies aim to potentiate the antitumor T-cell response at a tumor-specific level, by impairing the interaction of the inhibitory receptor PD-1 on T cells with PD-L1 expressed on tumor cells

Cancer patients as well as doctors and oncologists are having to learn a new language and a new way of thinking about cancer. The process is slow – but the most important people in cancer medicine –  patients; need to know the basics and what to ask of their oncologists because these new immune drugs, cancer vaccines and immune timing of treatments, appears to hold the key to curing cancers.

As I see it – the only caution right now is that patients may be rushing to overseas alternative clinics who promote the new elaborate cocktails of immune therapies. Skill and experience is required in using these new immune treatments- best to ask an expert.

Now – back to Prof Coventry and Martin Ashdown’s work for some additional information….
There are many studies that demonstrate that conclusions made by Prof Brendon Coventry and Martin Ashdown that propose that our immune system has a rhythm that can be measured especially when a patient has advancing cancer.

T lymphocytes (orange colour) assembling to kill cancer
T lymphocytes (orange colour) assembling to kill cancer

 It is known that Cytokines (cell signalling molecules that aid cell to cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma), are crucial mediators for shaping immune responses. Cytokines are important regulators of both the innate and adaptive immune response.

The following from the Journal of Immunology Research 2014 – states that Several parameters of the immune system exhibit oscillations with a period of approximately 24 hours that refers to “circadian rhythms.” Such daily variations in host immune system status might evolve to maximize immune reactions at times when encounters with pathogens are most likely to occur. However, the mechanisms behind circadian immunity have not been fully understood. Recent studies reveal that the internal time keeping system “circadian clock” plays a key role in driving the daily rhythms evident in the immune system. Importantly, several studies unveil molecular mechanisms of how certain clock proteins (e.g., BMAL1 and CLOCK) temporally regulate expression of cytokines. Since cytokines are crucial mediators for shaping immune responses, this review mainly summarizes the new knowledge that highlights an emerging role of the circadian clock as a novel regulator of cytokines. Continue reading “Review Article
Temporal Regulation of Cytokines by the Circadian Clock” at:

Research such as the above; should encourage us to support the important work on immune synchronization and timing of cancer treatments recently pioneered by Prof Brendon Coventry (and Martin Ashdown) as featured on my internet radio show: Navigating the Cancer Maze 23 January 2015; please see interviews and links below.

Biological_clock_human_svgProfessor Coventry’s first interview listed on the Science show with Robin Williams was broadcast : Saturday 17 April 2010 !! At last there is an intervention that can positively impact outcomes of treatments and that is relatively non invasive (apart from a series of blood tests over a 2 week period).

The information graphed from results can tell you when your window of opportunity for optimum response from your cancer treatments will be. It is my hope that patients will take the time to read and understand the research on both the immune system and immune synchronization of cancer treatments and its exciting implications and begin to ask for their immune systems rhythm to be measured and evaluated.

Prof Brendon Coventry Adelaide, South Australia
Prof Brendon Coventry Adelaide, South Australia

Prof Brendon Coventry says immune system rhythm, may be a fundamental discovery. Implications are better health and reduced costs for the health system. A survey showed that tumours disappear completely in just 7% of patients when treated with chemotherapy. Did the time of administering chemotherapy have an effect? Daily blood measurements show fluctuation in inflammatory markers in the blood. A cycle emerged. It’s now thought the immune system is being regulated, being switched on and off against the tumour. The periodicity is roughly 7 days. This matters, as hitting the immune system with chemicals when it isn’t receptive might be ineffective.

For more information visit the following URLs

Melanoma Study:


Immune System pulsing – Timing of Treatment

Martin Ashdown Window of Opportunity1

Be a particicipant in the medicines and approaches that could save your life!

until next time…..

Why Immunotherapy Month has been a Symbol of Hope for Cancer Patients | Grace Gawler

This week on Navigating the Cancer Maze I re-presented an interview with Dr Horst Lindhofer PhD, Munich, Germany who was the creator of Tri-Functional antibodies. In the last segment – I provide an overview and more resources plus coming events for those who live in or near Brisbane.

This week on Navigating the Cancer Maze I re-presented an interview with Dr Horst Lindhofer PhD, Munich, Germany who was the creator of Tri-Functional immune systemantibodies. In the last segment – I provide an overview and more resources plus coming events for those who live in or near Brisbane. For more information visit:       Interview links:           OR

Immunotherapy is not new. It is interesting to take a look at the  History of Immunotherapy and it’s  pioneers.

In the 1850s, doctors in Germany noticed that patients’ tumours would occasionally shrink if their tumour became infected. This observation led to the idea that the body’s immune system could be harnessed and made to fight cancer.

Around the same time, doctors throughout Europe, encouraged by the success of Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccine, attempted to make a ‘cancer vaccine’ by injecting patients with crude extracts of tumours from other cancer patients. These treatments were largely ineffective, but the field of ‘immunotherapy’ was born.

Initial progress on immunotherapy was slow, and over a hundred years’ work in the laboratory yielded little success in actual cancer treatment. This all changed when in 1975, Georges Köhler and César Milstein, working in Cambridge, discovered how to make synthetic antibodies.

Their discovery, coupled with an ever-increasing understanding of the immune system, has led to a variety of treatments and strategies that use the immune system to tackle cancer. Some, such as the antibody-based breast cancer drug Herceptin, are now used routinely to treat cancer patients.

Professor Jérôme Galon, Ph.D. whom I recently interviewed on Navigating the Cancer Maze received the William B. Coley Award in 2010. The award was established in 1975 in honor of Dr. William B. Coley, a pioneer of cancer immunotherapy, whose daughter, Helen Coley Nauts, founded Cancer Research Institute. To understand  Immunotherapy – please take 7 minutes to view this excellent video:

Immunotherapy: Boosting the immune system to fight cancer


William B. Coley, in 1891, injected streptococcal organisms into a patient with inoperable cancer. He thought that the infection he produced would have the side effect of shrinking the malignant tumor. He was successful, and this was one of the first examples of immunotherapy. Over the next forty years, as head of the Bone Tumor Service at Memorial Hospital in New York, Coley injected more than 1000 cancer patients with bacteria or bacterial products. These products became known as Coley’s Toxins. He and other doctors who used them reported excellent results, especially in bone and soft-tissue sarcomas.

Despite his reported good results, Coley’s Toxins came under a great deal of criticism because many doctors did not believe his results. This criticism, along with the development of radiation therapy and chemotherapy, caused Coley’s Toxins to gradually disappear from use. However, the modern science of immunology has shown that Coley’s principles were correct and that some cancers are sensitive to an enhanced immune system. Because research is very active in this field, William B. Coley, a bone sarcoma surgeon, deserves the title “Father of Immunotherapy.”

Further acceptance of his ideas was brought about by Coley’s own children. His son Bradley (1892-1961), also an orthopaedic surgeon, succeeded him as the head of the Bone Tumor Service at Memorial Hospital. Bradley Coley’s major textbook on bone tumors was published in 1948, and while advocating surgery as the main treatment for bone sarcomas, he supported the use of Coley’s toxin as adjunctive therapy. He believed that it would be of value in preventing micro-metastasis. His daughter, Helen Coley Nauts (1907-2001), became a cancer researcher and devoted her life to the study of her father’s toxins. She tabulated every patient he treated and reviewed all his notes. She published 18 monographs and tabulated over 1000 of his cases and noticed that in 500 of these there was near-complete regression. She founded Cancer Research Institute in New York. 

Read stories of patients successes immunotherapy trials from Cancer Research Institute at: Select from the menu ‘Who is the Immunocommunity’ and select the drop down menu ‘Patients Stories’

Immunotherapy can be local or systemic.

Local immunotherapy delivers the treatment to the affected area. For example, the BCG vaccine can be injected into the bladder to treat bladder cancer, as it causes inflammation that can cause the tumour to shrink.

Systemic therapy treats the whole body and is useful for targeting cancer that may have spread. In the 1980s, scientists at the Cancer Research UK Medical Oncology Unit at the Christie Hospital in Manchester showed that the protein interferon alpha could cause tumours to shrink in patients with low-grade lymphoma. Interferon is now used to treat several different types of cancer.

Immunotherapy can also be non-specific or targeted.

Non-specific immunotherapy works by boosting the body’s immune system in general, so that its natural cancer-killing activity is enhanced. Both of the examples of local and systemic therapies (above) are also examples of non-specific immunotherapy.

Targeted immunotherapy is designed to make the immune system specifically kill cancer cells. The following types of targeted immunotherapy are available or are in development:

Antibody-based therapies

Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system. A type of white blood cell called a B-cell produces them in response to an infection. Normally, antibodies stick to foreign objects in the body and label them for destruction. Researchers have been trying to make antibodies that will attach themselves only to cancer cells. This can be useful in four ways.

  • It can stop the cancer from growing by stopping other essential ‘growth factors’ from sticking to it.
  • It can ‘tag’ the cancer for destruction by the immune system.
  • If cancer drugs or radioactive particles are attached to the antibody, it can deliver them directly to the cancer cell without harming the rest of your body.
  • An enzyme (a type of protein that can promote chemical reactions) can be attached to an antibody, and then given to a patient along with a chemical that can be turned into a powerful drug by the enzyme. This directs the drug to the cancer, and minimise side effects. This process is known as Antibody-directed Enzyme/Pro-drug Therapy (ADEPT).


FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT IMMUNO-THERAPY already available in Germany for Clinical use – please contact me via the contact form on this blog or email to my new email address for enquiries: