You'll Never Believe the Next Big Thing in Medicine

I knew a woman whose lungs were full of tumors.

Her doctors stopped her chemo treatments and told her to make hospice arrangements.

Five years later, no one could find any evidence she had ever had lung cancer.

Chemotherapy can’t do that.

How did she survive?

It has to do with a science that is as old as humans… with people who carry around antibodies in their blood that can identify and kill even the most deadly diseases.

A study of about 4,000 people in Gabon a few years ago found that an average of 15% of people there had antibodies for Ebola.

They were essentially immune.

And science has discovered a way to prime your body to become immune to these diseases too.

The Next Big Thing in Medicine

The concept that our own bodies are better than anything modern medicine can offer is an extraordinary idea. We carry with us all the medicine we need in our own immune systems to ward off cancer, germs, viruses and a host of other diseases that can kill us.

But the system isn’t perfect.

Some diseases, like cancer, have evolved strategies to hide from our killer immune system cells.

For example, cancer tumor cells can coat themselves with fats that look normal to the immune system.

And that isn’t the only problem — sometimes our immune systems can go haywire and attack healthy and natural cells in our bodies, instead of invaders.

Rheumatoid arthritis, a debilitating disease, is caused by the immune system attacking healthy cells — in this case, the linings of joints.

We are at the very early stages of understanding cancer itself, much less how cancer cells can hide from the immune system and why the immune system revolts and attacks healthy cells.

Part of the problem with cancer is that tumor cells are made up of normal cells from your body that have started dividing without end.

Those cells are not perceived as invaders because they contain your DNA.

But it may not matter how much we understand about cancer or why cancer cells can’t be identified by the immune system.

Perhaps all we need to know is how to attach a marker to cancer cells so that our immune systems see them as foreign.

The approach some scientists are taking is to leapfrog ignorance and just go ahead and tweak the immune system.

Oncologists are beginning to treat a patient’s immune system, instead of treating the disease.

For example, we clearly understand that when an antibody — which is simply a protein — is attached to a cell, that cell suddenly carries a big red flag saying kill me. Immune system macrophages, T-cells and killer cells will see the flag and go to work.

About 40 years ago, two researchers who went on to win Nobel Prizes figured out that those antibody markers could be produced in a laboratory.

Ever since then, with growing but always with limited success, scientists have been making antibodies and trying to use them as medicine.

Still, even three years ago, immunotherapy seemed to be more theory than therapy.

Then in 2011, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley who had been trying to defeat melanomas with engineered antibodies came up with an antibody system that was rushed through by the FDA. It was a breakthrough. And by 2013, the prestigious journal Science had designated immunotherapy as the breakthrough of the year.

This is all part of a field that I have followed for years, because it just makes sense that no medicine is likely to do as well as the human immune system, which has evolved over 2 million years to combat anything nature can throw at us.

And keeping a close eye on the field is paying off.

Three months ago, on Oct. 14, I placed a new stock in the portfolio of Breakthrough Technology Alert that has recently gone public. It is showing remarkable success against blood cancers in FDA trials using immunotherapy.

At the time I recommended readers buy it, it was at $31.07 a share. As I write, the stock has soared to more than $80 a share — in less than three months.

Immunotherapy is the next big thing in medicine. Now is the time to invest.

Stephen Petranek
for The Daily Reckoning

The Daily Reckoning